This is the beginning of a new life. Perhaps you have been longing to be pregnant for years, perhaps you feel shocked and unprepared for this. No matter what life brings in the upcoming weeks and months, life will never be quite the same again.

If this is your first baby you might not know where to start!

The Health System

First step for most is to go to your GP to confirm your pregnancy and enter the HSE healthcare system. This visit and all your pregnancy related visits will be free. If you can bring a urine sample in a clean small container that will help speed up the process, or you can head to the GP needing to wee and ask the receptionist for a urine sample container you can do the wee there.  The GP will fill you in on the schedule of visits, half of which are with your GP and half will be at the hospital. The GP will let your local hospital know that you are pregnant and you will get sent a time for your booking appointment. This can take up to three hours, so if you work make sure you can take the morning off work on the day of the booking appointment. University Hospital Galway (UHG) maternity services has an informative website, you can check it out here. 

In Galway it is possible to plan to have your baby at home. Please check out this page for information on midwives who provide this service. 

Antenatal classes 

UHG has free antenatal classes. They are very popular and can be overbooked, so get in touch with the Antentatal Education Team on 091-544210 to book in as soon as possible, you can find out more information about these classes on their website, here.

There are also private antenatal classes in Galway city and county. Tara Durkin runs the Cuidiu antenatal classes in Galway city, she can be contacted on 086.232.8229. These are excellent and thorough classes that cater to small numbers in order to give the most support and information as possible. These classes cover more than just the physical aspects of pregnancy, labour, delivery and having a new baby (although they include a tour of the hospital also). They also cover needing and getting support, staying mentally and physically well, how to breastfeed, and numerous other well-being factors that are so important. Please click here to be directed to their facebook page for more information.

There are also other private antenatal classes in Galway. You can focus on hypnobirthing, gentle birth, or other specific ways to self-care and get support and during the antenatal period. Check out Rollercoaster’s community resource directory for other antenatal classes in Galway. Just a disclaimer: Galway Parent Network cannot vouch for these classes in particular as being reflective and respectful parenting based. That’s not to say they aren’t, but we just don’t know.

What to do if it feels like something is wrong

Listen to your instincts and go and see your GP, midwife, public health nurse or talk to a support person. If you are spotting blood, having cramps, getting blinding headaches, feeling depressed, being physically abused, afraid, not sleeping, not eating, the baby isn’t moving, you feel very dizzy – if there is anything that makes you feel like something is wrong please contact a healthcare professional. The worst that can happen if you do that is that you were worrying unnecessarily. This is far better than ignoring a potential warning sign. This website, and no website, can replace individual advice and support.

 Supporting relationships 

Being pregnant is like glowing on cloud nine for months – for a lucky few. There is much excitement and pleasure in the anticipation of a baby to hold and love, a feeling of significance in contributing to a community, great intentions for the wonderful parent you are going to be. For many of us it has tough moments too, of feeling sick, feeling afraid, wanting to back out or grieving the life that you have lost now. What helps us get through the rough patches, and bring joy in having someone to share the good patches with, are the relationships we have. Important as they are now, they will be at least as important if not more important after you’ve had your baby.

Supporting relationships fall into three groups:

Informal relationships are friends, family, neighbours, people you chat to at the shops, old school friends, work colleagues, acquaintances. These are people you chose to see and money doesn’t necessarily change hands.

Semi-formal relationships are tutors/instructors/leaders/guides of community groups such as antenatal class leader, zumba instructor, pregnancy yoga instructor, breastfeeding class tutor. People with whom sometimes money is involved but you, your child and your wellbeing are not their specific responsibility. You chose to be there and can leave.

Finally, formal supports are people paid by the government (normally) to provide a service to you and you are their responsibility for a specific reason. Such as your hospital midwife and/or obstetrician, a staff member of the Department of Social Protection, a social worker, your Public Health Nurse, your GP.

As a pregnant mother a whole host of new people will come into your life, who will be formal supporters and sometimes semi-formal supporters. It’s a good idea to work on increasing your informal supporters, such as getting to know your neighbours. When you are home after your baby is born it’s helpful to know who is around, who is home during the day, and anyone nearby who also has young children. Doing this before baby comes is especially important for Mums who work full time as these Mums are less likely to have built those bridges already. You can also increase your support by building semi-formal networks; join a yoga class, get in touch with the local Cuidiu breastfeeding support group they welcome pregnant women, chat to the other mothers at antenatal classes. Not only can this alleviate loneliness in new motherhood, but feeling supported is good for your mental health.

Some good blog posts about the transition to motherhood:

Making friends when you’re pregnant (USA)

Making friends in new parenthood (UK)

You won’t always feel this lonely