Pre-Pregnancy Health & Wellbeing

The decision to start a family is an important and sometimes overwhelming step.

Women and men should prepare for pregnancy before becoming sexually active — or at least three months before getting pregnant. Some actions, such as quitting smoking, reaching a healthy weight, or adjusting current medication should start even earlier.

The most important things you can do for preconception health are:

  1. Take folic acid every day to lower the risk of some congenital/birth disabilities of the brain and spine, including spina bifida. All women need folic acid every day. Talk to us about your folic acid needs.

  2. We will also discuss any additional supplements you may require, for example vitamin D supports healthy bone and immune development. If you are vegetarian, vegan or following a restricted diet due to coeliac disease or food intolerance, please discuss this with us as additional supplements or dietary advice may be required.

  3. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol.

  4. If you have a medical condition, ensure it is under control. Some conditions that can affect pregnancy or be affected by it include asthma, diabetes, oral health, obesity, or epilepsy.

  5. Talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter and prescription medicines you are using. These include dietary or herbal supplements. Ensure your vaccinations are up to date.

  6. Avoid contact with toxic substances or materials that could cause infection at work and home. Stay away from chemicals, and cat or rodent faeces.

Please contact reception for more information or to book your appointment.

Pregnancy Health & Wellbeing

Congratulations, you’re pregnant! You are about to embark upon one of the most exciting and sometimes daunting journeys of your life.

Optimising your health and wellbeing during your pregnancy (antenatal care) is essential for you and your baby’s future health and wellbeing. Antenatal care involves several medical checkups and screening tests that help keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy. It also includes education and counselling about how to handle different aspects of your pregnancy. We will discuss many different issues from healthy eating and physical activity, to screening tests you might need, and what to expect during labour and delivery. We will also be happy to discuss any concerns or queries you may have during your pregnancy.


Maternity and Infant Care Scheme

All expectant mothers are entitled to free in-patient public health services and a defined number of free GP visits during their pregnancy, under the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme. This scheme entitles you to:

  • A booking visit and five free GP visits during your first pregnancy.

  • One additional free visit (seven in total) for subsequent pregnancies.

  • Five additional free GP visits if you are living with a chronic condition such as diabetes.

Your Doctor will be able to advise you more on this. Your GP visits alternate with visits to your hospital of choice (see below). Your schedule of visits may be changed by your GP and hospital obstetrician, depending on your individual situation.

How do I apply for the Maternity & Infant Care Scheme?

We can provide you with an application form for the scheme, which you and your GP will both need to complete. We will return the completed form to the local health office on your behalf. You are free to attend any Doctor of your choosing in Briarhill Family Practice, once you have nominated our practice for the scheme.

Please be aware the Scheme only entitles you to free care concerning your pregnancy. GP visits concerning health issues outside of your pregnancy will incur a charge as the scheme does not cover these.

Please contact reception for more information or to book your appointment.


Vaccines Before, During & After Pregnancy

Vaccines given before, during and after pregnancy offer a safe and effective way to protect you and your child from certain diseases.

We offer a range of vaccinations recommended by the Irish health authorities for women during this important time. If you have any worries or questions about vaccinations you and your baby may require, please contact reception and make an appointment to see your Doctor or Nurse.


Before Your Pregnancy

MMR Vaccine

The MMR vaccine is a combined vaccine that is a safe and effective way to protect you against measles (M), mumps (M) and rubella (R) in one single injection. Measles, mumps and rubella are highly infectious diseases that can cause serious, and potentially fatal complications such as meningitis, encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and deafness. During pregnancy, rubella can lead to serious complications affecting the unborn baby including deafness, blindness, brain damage or heart disease. It some cases, it can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.

The MMR vaccine is given in two doses. The first dose is given as part of the childhood immunisation schedule at 12 months, and the second dose is given at four/five years of age as part of the school immunisation programme.

If you are unsure you have received both doses of the vaccine, we can check your immunity and advise if an MMR vaccination is necessary.

Please note: The MMR vaccine is not suitable for women who are pregnant. The MMR is a live vaccine – avoid pregnancy for one month following vaccination.

Useful link

HSE - More information about MMR vaccine

During Your Pregnancy

Vaccines given during pregnancy are a safe and effective way to protect you and your child from certain diseases. They help to protect your baby during the first few weeks of life as the immunity you develop against the disease passes onto your baby in your womb. Vaccines recommended in pregnancy include.

Flu Vaccine

The flu (influenza) vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect you from the influenza virus.

The flu is a highly infectious and acute respiratory (breathing) illness that is caused by the influenza virus. It affects people of all ages and commonly occurs during the winter months.

Getting the flu while pregnant increases your chance of developing complications, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. A common complication of the flu during pregnancy is bronchitis, a chest infection that could lead to pneumonia. Less common complications include:

It can also lead to premature birth and smaller babies, and may even lead to stillbirth or death during the first week of life.

The flu vaccine changes every year to protect against the strain of flu virus going around that year. It can be given to you safely at any time during pregnancy and poses no risk to women who are breastfeeding, or to their babies.

Flu vaccination during pregnancy also provides immunity against the flu virus for babies in the first six months of life.

Useful Link

HSE - More information about flu vaccine during pregnancy


Whooping Cough Vaccine

The whooping cough (pertussis) vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect your child from getting whooping cough during the first few weeks of life. The immunity you get from the vaccination will be passed onto your baby in the womb and will provide passive protection until they are old enough to be vaccinated against the whooping cough at two months old, as part of the childhood immunisation schedule.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious illness that can be life-threatening. Young babies (under six months old) with whooping cough are often hospitalised with severe complications such as pneumonia or brain damage.

But you can help your baby by getting vaccinated from weeks 27 to 36 of your pregnancy. This vaccination will maximise your baby’s protection against whooping cough from birth. 

We protect against the whooping cough with the Tdap vaccine – tetanus (T), diphtheria (d) and acellular pertussis (ap) booster vaccine which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. It is given in one single injection.

If you miss having the vaccination for any reason, you can still have it up until you go into labour, although your baby is less likely to get protection from you. Having the vaccination at this stage protects you from getting whooping cough and passing it onto your baby.

Women should vaccinate against whooping cough during each pregnancy as immunity to whooping cough can decrease over time.

Useful link

HSE - More information about Tdap vaccine during pregnancy

After Your Pregnancy

Whooping Cough Vaccine

Vaccination against whooping cough can also be of value after delivery as it can protect you from catching whooping cough and passing it on to your baby. However, the greatest benefit to your baby remains in getting vaccinated during your pregnancy. If you vaccinate against whooping cough after your baby is born, you cannot pass antibodies to them for protection in their first few months.

Useful Link

HSE - More information about whooping cough vaccine after pregnancy


MMR Vaccine

During pregnancy, your immunity to rubella is regularly checked by your Doctor. If we find you are not immune to Rubella, the MMR vaccine is recommended. Although the MMR vaccine is safe to give while you are breastfeeding, it is a live vaccine and pregnancy must be avoided for one month following vaccination.


Useful Link

HSE - More information about MMR vaccine


Content developed from HSE and NHS Choices
is adapted for Briarhill Family Practice by Briarhill Family Practice.

Post-Pregnancy Health

The arrival of your new baby into your family is a time of joy, celebration and wonder.

Investing in your health and wellbeing after the birth of your new baby is essential for you, your family’s and your baby’s future health and wellbeing.

The Maternity and Infant Scheme provides for two postnatal visits to your GP – the first of which is at two weeks and the second at six weeks. Each visit offers an excellent opportunity for you to raise any questions you may have about you and your baby’s health and wellbeing. Whether you have questions concerning medical issues, future contraception, stress or adjusting to your new life, we are here to listen and help.

Please contact reception for more information or to book your appointment.


Mental Health Before, During & After Pregnancy

Welcoming a new baby home can be a challenging time for parents, couples and families.

Research shows that psychological illness during pregnancy and after birth is common – one in five women in Ireland will suffer from a depressive disorder during the antenatal or postnatal period, and almost one in 10 new mothers will suffer from postnatal depression.

Whether you’ve had difficulties in the past, are worried that you are at risk or simply want to be at your best health, we will do our best to ensure you receive the expert help and support you need.

Please contact reception for more information or to book your appointment.