Once you have performed a pregnancy test at home with a positive result, it is advised that you attend your GP who will confirm your pregnancy.
He/she will calculate the gestational age (i.e. the number of weeks pregnant you are) using the first day of your last period. He/she may refer you for an early pregnancy scan. However it is important to note that an ultrasound is rarely conclusive at a gestational age of six weeks or less. The ideal time for an early ultrasound scan is between 7 and 8 weeks gestation.
The GP will also perform routine pregnancy blood tests. A full blood count (FBC) is preformed in order to get a baseline level of Haemoglobin; this is repeated again at 28 weeks and if necessary during your pregnancy. A blood group is performed to determine your blood group status, and most importantly your Rhesus status. Infectious disease bloods, i.e. HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, Syphilis are done to screen for the most common infectious diseases in pregnancy. Although these are rare, if diagnosed early treatment can be given to prevent transmission from mother to a baby.
Your GP will make a referral to the maternity hospital to arrange your booking visit and dating scan between 12 to 16 weeks gestation.
Early Scans - When and Where
In the CUMH the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit (EPAU) is held in the Aislinn Suite.
The EPAU is open from 8am to 1pm, Monday to Friday. It is an appointment-based service only. However, a limited number of urgent appointments are available every day and these can be arranged by your GP contacting the EPAU directly, or by the CUMH Emergency Room.
If you have a history of recurrent miscarriage or your last pregnancy ended in miscarriage, the EPAU provides scans between 8 and 12 weeks gestation. If you experience vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain before 12 weeks gestation, you should attend your GP who can make an appointment with the EPAU on your behalf.
During an appointment in the EPAU, the midwives who are specifically trained and experienced sonographers, will take a short medical history from you and offer you an ultrasound scan. They will initially consider a trans-abdominal ultrasound but sometimes they may need to perform an internal scan, a trans-vaginal ultrasound (TVS).
If you have a history of two or more consecutive miscarriages, or if you are experiencing pain/bleeding in this current pregnancy, you can also be referred to the EPAU for an ultrasound scan.
The EPAU/Aislinn Suite is located in Ward 2 South on the second floor of CUMH. As you enter the main door of the maternity hospital, you will see a set of lifts and stairs. Go to the second floor and follow the direction to 2 South. The EPAU/Aislinn Suite is on your right.
Support Services and Groups
If you have previously experienced miscarriages understandably this may make you anxious about another pregnancy.
Support Services are available in CUMH. These include
Aislinn Suite/Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit
Clinical Midwives Specialist in Bereavement and Loss
The above support services can be contacted through CUMH reception on 0214920500.
Your GP will also provide support and can make referrals to relevant support services.
Other support organizations and links that may be helpful to you include:
The Miscarriage Association of Ireland