Now your bun in the oven is well and truly cooking it is going to be a great help to start finding out about various benefits and entitlements you can receive while you are pregnant and throughout your Baby’s First Year.
You may find yourself surprised at the assistance you will get and it is wise to be fully informed so you and Junior don’t miss out.
There are currently two types of maternity leave available within the UK.
Statutory maternity pay is paid to working women by there employer and is known as SMP and MA (Maternity Allowance) which is paid for by the Government through the Jobcentre.
Statutory Maternity Pay
Some employers also have their own maternity schemes so check your employee’s handbook. If you work, your right to Statutory Maternity Pay is based upon your time with your employer and your average earnings over a certain period.
You and Junior are able to gain 39 weeks maternity leave – and will receive 90% of your weekly wage for the first six weeks. After this period you can expect either the same amount or a flat rate of £117.18 a week, whichever is the lesser value. You and your bump are also entitled to paid time off for antenatal appointments; these include midwife, hospital scan visits and antenatal classes.
Mums to be can choose when they starts their maternity leave and it is usually taken from the 11th week before the baby is due. You have the right to return to work earlier after the bambino is born but you have to give 8 weeks notice and all employees are entitled to return to the same job as they had before.
MA or Maternity Allowance is for women who are not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay and is paid directly into your bank account via the Jobcentre. It is paid for up to 26 weeks and the standard weekly rate is £123.06.
Dads Paternity Leave
Not forgetting the dads, there are new rules being pushed through Parliament which will entitle working fathers to share time off work during their baby’s first year. This could mean that fathers will get up to six months off work and will ensure that new mums get more support within this important time, and working Dads have the opportunity, and the right, to spend time with a new baby. At the moment Dads are entitled to 2 weeks paternity leave when your baby is born and must be taken in one continues block.
Sure Start Maternity Grant
You will be pleased to know that there is financial assistance available but some of this may only be offered to first time mothers.
The Sure Start Maternity Grant is only offered to parents who have no other children and who are on benefits including Income Support and Jobseekers Allowance. The grant is paid from the Social Fund and is a lump sum that you will not have to pay back even if your situation changes. It amounts to £500 and if you have twins then you will receive £500 for each baby.
*Paternity Leave Update*
The law has now changed (great news!) and dads may now be entitled to 26 weeks additional paid paternity leave. Please visit the Governments Paternity Page for full details.
Free Prescriptions When Pregnant & For Baby’s First Year
Once your bundle of joy has been confirmed you are entitled to free prescriptions but many people don’t realise this is the case.
Free prescriptions are given to every woman who is expecting, that is whether you are working or not and regardless of the amount you have earned. You are entitled to these from the time your doctor confirms your pregnancy until one year after your baby is born.
If your baby is born early you will still be able to claim until the date stated on your entitlement card is up and should the worst happen and you experience a stillbirth you will still receive free prescriptions for a year.
As far as what you can claim for then it is simple. Anything that you have a prescription for is free, you simply need to show your entitlement card and sign the back of the form to get your prescription.
To apply you need to fill in a form from your doctor or the Oracle (aka midwife) and they will need to complete it with your due date. You will soon receive a small card showing your new entitlement and the expiry date. If your baby is born later than the due date then you will still receive the free prescriptions for the 12 months.
Free Dental Services While Pregnant & Your Baby’s First Year
Some of the not so nice symptoms of pregnancy involve your gnashers and this can be very worrying. Hormones racing around your body can cause your gums to soften and can leave them prone to bleeding during tooth brushing. Because of this it is vital that you get regular check-ups from your dentist who can advise you on different techniques to avoid this unpleasant side effect.
All pregnant women will receive free dental treatment on the NHS – as long as you are registered as an NHS patient you are entitled to it.
Just like your free prescriptions the dental care continues until a year after your bambino is born as it is vital to keep those teeth healthy at this vulnerable time.
Dental check-ups and cleaning are perfectly safe for your little one but any major treatment may need to be left until your baby is born. Also, dentists will not do any X-rays during pregnancy due to the risk of radiation to your bundle of joy.