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Care and Support

Support services

There are many support services available for you. Please just ask.

Medical social work service

Maternity units have a medical social work service, which provides support, counselling, information on entitlements, practical and legal issues such as guardianship, and assistance in accessing supports. Ask staff looking after you or your baby for details or to refer you.

There are also websites that provide details of benefits, entitlements, guardianship as well as other sources of support, see Sources of online information and useful contacts.

If your baby is very small or very sick or has been moved from another hospital you may be referred to the Medical Social Work service so that they can give you help and support and useful information.

Mum chatting with member of Medical Social Work Team

Did You Know?

Unmarried partners do not have automatic guardianship rights. Please ask staff for further information.

Chaplaincy service

A chaplain is available to provide spiritual support at your request.

There is also a hospital chapel/prayer room for quiet prayer and reflection.

If you wish to have your baby baptized or blessed, let the team looking after your baby know and they will contact the chaplain. We also have contact details for representatives of many religions if you would like some religious support.


Mum chatting to the Chaplain at The NMH

Specialist perinatal mental health service

Most maternity units offer specialist perinatal mental health services. Ask staff looking after you or your baby for details or to refer you.

This service is available to patients up to six months following delivery. 

Information about specialist perinatal mental health services is available on the HSE website 

Here you can also view a leaflet describing this specialist perinatal mental health service 

Bereavement support

Sometimes, even though the neonatal team does everything that we can do to help your baby, babies are too unwell to get better and they die. This is incredibly hard on parents. Each hospital has a bereavement midwife or nurse available to support you. Please visit here to see supports available to you at The NMH.

There are also websites, which provide details of support, information and counselling, see Sources of online information and useful contacts for details

Purple Butterfly

When visiting the neonatal unit, please be aware of the purple butterfly image, which may be displayed on a cot or incubator. This symbol represents a baby that had a twin or triplet who has died, and the butterfly acts as awareness of loss for other families and staff.


All staff are here to support you and your baby. If the person who you are talking to can’t help with your questions, we will be happy to refer you to someone who can.

Other support

There are other sources of support and information too. Check with staff and see ‘Sources of online information and useful contacts’

Maternity Leave Entitlement

Mothers of babies who are born early are entitled to extra maternity leave for the weeks that their baby was born early.

All mothers in Ireland are entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave. The extra weeks are added on at the end of this. Ask your medical social worker if you have questions.