When adding a child to their family, there is a multitude of conversations which a couple will need to have. Financially preparing for a baby is one of the most important topics to discuss.

In the current cost of living crisis, the cost of having a baby has inevitably increased in the UK. Research reveals that the average cost of raising a child from birth to the age of 18 is £202,660, which equates to £11,250 a year, or £938 a month.

In this article, we will be discussing this question: how do people afford maternity leave UK?

We hope you find our tips helpful.

How long 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.*

How do people afford maternity leave UK?

With the rising costs of living, this has left many to wonder, how do people afford maternity leave UK?

If you are planning to have a baby and go on maternity leave, then we recommend following these tips below:

1. Save up for maternity leave.

Plan ahead, even before you become pregnant, if possible. You and your partner should build up your savings as early as you can, so you have money in the pot, ready to spend while you are on 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 cash stacked away for these situations.

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

In the UK, there are many support options to help 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. For example:

  1. Join the Boots Parenting Club, where you can enjoy exclusive freebies, discounts, and extra points on your Boots Advantage Card. You can use this service from the moment you find out you are pregnant, all the way until your child turns five!
  2. Download the Pampers Club App and start claiming free nappies today. All you have to do is find the code inside each nappy pack, enter the code into the app, and you will be given a stamp. For every 10 stamps, you will get a free nappy pack delivered!
  3. Get a free Bookstart pack from BookTrust, which contains interactive storybooks, games, activities, and much more. Every child in England and Wales is entitled to a free Bookstart pack before they are 12 months old.

We urge you to conduct as much research as possible, to discover what kinds of allowances and freebies you are entitled to, as a pregnant mum. There is a wealth of free resources out there, so get searching and start claiming today!

3. Skip paternity leave.

Another money-saving tip for new parents is: not taking paternity leave.

By law, fathers are entitled to 1 to 2 weeks of paternity leave after the baby is born.

The statutory weekly rate of Paternity Pay is £156.66, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

However, many fathers opt out of taking Paternity Leave altogether, because they cannot afford to take a pay cut at such a critical time.

Instead, the father books annual leave instead, so that they can take some time off work to be at home with the baby, without losing any wages.

4. Don’t spend unnecessary money on baby equipment.

It is very tempting to splurge on the priciest baby paraphernalia because you want the very best for your child. However, a higher quantity doesn’t necessarily mean better quality.

On average, in the first year of the baby’s life, UK parents spend £9,565 on necessities such as nappies, baby food, baby clothes, childcare, and buggies.

One way to keep costs low 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 only shopping for the priciest garments?

You can buy (and sell) 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 clothing first, before dressing your baby in them.

Shopping second-hand is not just restricted to baby clothes only.

You can find all sorts of pre-loved baby items, including:

  • baby toys
  • high chair
  • nappy bags
  • baby play gyms
  • pushchairs

If you do buy second-hand items, remember to carry out a thorough inspection to check if these are in good working condition.

Remember, a used item may not be safe for your baby. There could be hidden signs of damage, which are not visible, or it may be unhygienic. E.g. we don’t recommend buying used car seats, used baby formula, or used breast pumps.

Additionally, don’t forget to sterilize any equipment which has been previously used (e.g. baby bottle warmer.)

What can I give as a gift 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 work colleague about to start maternity leave? Is your team chipping in for a lovely baby gift to surprise her?

Then, why not browse our Pamper Corporate Gift Hampers? These delightful 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 touched, as she sets off 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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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.

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 do people afford maternity leave UK?’