How Can I Survive Maternity Leave Without Pay?

Sometimes, maternity leave is viewed as an easy, care-free time for mums to bond with their little angel. Realistically, those months can be a stressful experience and even a rollercoaster of emotions for a postpartum mum.

One of the toughest things about maternity leave is the challenge of navigating it financially.

Have you ever wondered, how can I survive maternity leave without pay?

Well, we will outline a few tips to help you prepare for maternity leave in this article, which we hope you find informative.

What is Maternity Leave in the UK?

Every employee who becomes pregnant has the right to take up to a year of maternity leave, regardless of the hours worked, how long they have been employed there, or their salary. While on maternity leave, you can stay off work, to give birth and raise your baby.

But you do not have to take the full 52 weeks off if you don’t want to.

By law, you must take off 2 weeks after the baby is born, so you are not allowed to work during this period.

You can take up to 26 weeks off, which is called Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML). If you want to, you can take an additional 26 weeks off work, which is called ‘Additional Maternity Leave’.

What is Maternity Pay in the UK?

During maternity leave, pregnant women are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), which is paid for up to 39 weeks.

For the first six weeks, you receive 90% of your average pay.

After that, you get a flat rate (£156.66 per week) for 33 weeks, or 90% of your average earnings if that is less.

*UPDATE: from April 2023, the weekly rate of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) has increased to £172.48, up from £156.66.*

What is Maternity Allowance in the UK?

Maternity Allowance (MA) is a payment you can get when you take time off to have a baby.

You can claim Maternity Allowance for up to 39 weeks, starting as soon as you have been pregnant for 26 weeks.

You may be eligible for Maternity Allowance if you:

  • are employed but cannot get Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).
  • are self-employed.
  • have recently stopped working.
  • take part in unpaid work for the business of your partner.

Click here to use the Maternity Entitlement Calculator, to check your eligibility for Maternity Allowance.

Can I claim both Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance?

No, you cannot get both payments at the same time.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is from your employer.

Maternity Allowance (MA) is from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

How can I survive maternity leave without pay?

With living costs at an all-time high, this has left many to wonder, how can I survive maternity leave without pay?

If you are planning to go on maternity leave, then we recommend following these tips below, to financially prepare for this new chapter:

1. Save up in advance.

Plan ahead and start saving early, even before you become pregnant, if you can.

Open a bank account which is dedicated to pregnancy and baby essentials only. Every month, add some money into this account and build up your savings, so you have money in the pot, ready to spend during maternity leave.

Unexpected costs and emergencies may pop up during your pregnancy and once the baby arrives. So, it pays to be prepared, and have savings ready for these situations.

2. Take advantage of the freebies available for pregnant women.

In the UK, there are tons of free resources for pregnant women, which will help you save money in the long run. For instance, pregnant women can:

There are also plenty of schemes where pregnant women can sign up to claim free pregnancy and baby products. We recommend doing as much research as possible because you never know what freebies you may find. For example:

4. Go bargain-hunting for baby equipment.

Many parents get tempted to splurge on the priciest baby paraphernalia. However, a higher quantity doesn’t necessarily mean better quality.

One way to cut costs down is to buy second-hand baby clothes. Your child will spit up on their clothes, have accidents, and grow out of them quickly. So, why bother forking out for expensive baby garments?

You can buy second-hand baby clothes at:

  • Facebook Marketplace
  • pre-loved stores
  • charity shops
  • car boot sales
  • jumble sales
  • baby clothes swap shops in your local area.

Remember to wash any second-hand baby outfits first, before dressing your baby in them.

What gift I give to someone who is going on maternity leave?

At Mama Jewels, our special treats make the perfect present to help your partner, friend, or relative kick off her maternity leave!

Everything we sell is pregnancy-safe and vegan-friendly. So, you won’t find any animal-derived ingredients, toxic chemicals, or eco-unfriendly packaging in our products.         

Take a look at our gift recommendations for women going on maternity leave below:

1. Corporate Gift Hamper

Is your team contributing towards a lovely gift to surprise your work colleague, who is about to go on maternity leave?

Then, why not browse our Pamper Corporate Gift Hampers? These gorgeous hampers contain luxurious beauty products and self-care essentials, including bath bombs, aromatherapy bath and massage oil, bath soap, lip butter, vegan chocolate, and more!

The contents of these hampers will help a pregnant mum recreate a spa experience from the comfort of her home. She will feel relaxed, pampered, and deeply moved, as she embarks on this wonderful new chapter.

Click here to view our collection of Corporate Gift Hampers.

Alternatively, Create Your Own Gift Hamper here!

You can browse our Mum & Baby Gift Hampers here, or click here to browse our complete collection of gift hampers.

2. Pregnancy Bola Jewellery

Another beautiful gift idea for pregnant mums is one of our Pregnancy Bola Jewellery pieces.

When the mummy-to-be wears our Bola Pendant next to her bump, from around 20 weeks, the baby will be able to hear the Bola’s gentle chime.

As time goes by, the chime will become familiar to the baby and it will comfort, reassure and relax them in the womb. This understanding stays with the baby and once they are born, so the bola’s chime can again be used to gently settle and soothe.

This gorgeous necklace, which comes with a cord and a silver or black satin card, looks so elegant around the neck. It makes a stunning present for a pregnant mum to bond with her unborn baby.

Click here to shop our Silver Pregnancy Bola Pendant (Grace) and our Silver Pregnancy Bola Pendant (Skye).

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To learn more about maternity leave and gift ideas for expectant parents, click here to read our blog articles on:

About Mama Jewels

Mama Jewels is an independent gift box company, selling planet-friendly artisan gifts, to help make the transition to motherhood easier and more comfortable for pregnant mums and new mums.

All of our products are pregnancy-safe, vegan-friendly, and sustainably sourced. Though our products are made lovingly in England, we do ship worldwide.

To learn more about Mama Jewels, visit our website here.

Click here to browse our gift hampersspa wellness boxesletterbox gifts, and vegan skincare collection, or create your own gift hamper here.

Read more articles about pregnancy, parenthood and gifts for new mums and mums-to-be on our blog here.

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We hope this article has provided the answer to the question ‘how can I survive maternity leave without pay?’