There is a geographical disparity when it comes to the provision of post-natal services, new research has shown.
A national survey has revealed that women in the north-west of the country report poorer access to post-natal services than those in other areas.
The HIQA report on maternity care provided in the community highlighted the "concerning" correlation between geographical location and the provision of post-natal services.
The Maternity and Infant Scheme allows for two visits to the GP at two weeks and six weeks after childbirth.
The number of women who attended their two-week check-up were significantly lower for women living in Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo. Of those who did not attend, the majority said it was because they were unaware of it.
Nationally, almost 85% of women attended the two-week post-natal appointment while less than half of women in Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo attended.
Speaking about the report, HIQA’s Director of Health Information and Standards Rachel Flynn said: "It is important that women in Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo are afforded the same opportunities and can have the same expectation of care provision those in Ireland’s urban centres.
A significant number of the 6,000 women surveyed felt that there was not sufficient time given to discuss their physical and mental health.
They felt more information should be provided on the changes they would experience to their mental and physical health, as well as their nutritional needs during pregnancy.
Nationally, 45% of those surveyed answered 'yes, definitely' when asked if sufficient time was spent discussing their physical health at the six-week check-up while just 39% said sufficient time was spent talking about their mental health.
"Pregnancy is a demanding experience, both physically and mentally. It is concerning that a significant number of women who took part in this survey felt that they did not receive enough information about potential changes to their mental health during pregnancy," said Ms Flynn.
"Greater care must be taken by medical practitioners to make sure that women are made aware of the mental health supports that are available to them while expecting."
Overall, respondents said they have confidence and trust in their healthcare professional. Most were positive about the care and support they received.
The vast majority (87%) said their GP was the first point of contact once they became pregnant.
While many comments identified the caring and helpful attitudes of GPs, they also highlighted the requirement for more personalised care, particularly in the postnatal period.
Ms Flynn said it's crucial that pregnant patients can trust the treatment and advice they receive from GPs.