Portsmouth city council

At the family information service we know that raising a child is the most important and rewarding job you'll ever have. We also understand there's a lot of information to work your way through as you begin your journey.

What will I do about work? Will I get any financial support? Who do I go to if I need help?

This section will provide you with the key information you need for life with your new baby and details of where to go if you need further advice and guidance.

Congratulations! Our top tip for you at this stage is to enjoy this special time, it's the start of an amazing journey.

Your first task is to arrange an appointment with your doctor. Based on the information you give them they'll plot your due date and pass your details to the Maternity Services who will arrange a 'Booking Appointment.'

Your Booking Appointment will take place when you're approximately two months pregnant.

For more information about what happens at your Booking Appointment and the rest of the your antenatal appointments, visit the NHS website's dedicated maternity pages.

Although there's not much else you need to do at this early stage, it would be beneficial to find out all the information now so that you know what to expect. 

Make a note of the key dates for important tasks such as, advising your employer of your pregnancy and deciding when you'd like your maternity leave to start. Perhaps record the tasks in a diary or write them on your calendar to ensure you don't miss anything.

If you work, you must tell your employer about your pregnancy at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the week your baby is due. If this isn't possible, for example if you didn't know you were pregnant, you must tell them as soon as possible.

Regardless of how long you've been employed, expectant mums who work are entitled to paid time off to attend antenatal check-ups, relaxation classes and parent craft classes.

Some employers let dads have paid time off for this too. Check with your employer - there's no harm in asking!

Maternity leave

All expectant mums are entitled to up to one year's paid maternity leave, providing you've worked for your employer for 26 weeks or more. If you have worked for your employer for less than 26 weeks you'll still be entitled to the leave but there's no guarantee that you'll be paid.

The earliest you can start your leave is 11 weeks before your expected leave date, but remember- the earlier you start your leave, the earlier you'll need to return. More time off before the baby is born means less time off with baby when they arrive.

As long as you have a contract and let your employer know at least 15 weeks before your baby is due you'll be entitled to maternity leave. You can take up to 52 weeks off work. You don't have to take the whole 52 weeks, but must take a minimum of two weeks off once your baby is born.

Follow the link for more information on maternity leave.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

SMP is money paid to you whilst you're on Maternity Leave. Only certain employees will be entitled to SMP. To qualify for SMP you must earn an average of £112 per week and have worked for your current employer for at least 41 weeks before your baby is due.

If you’re not eligible for SMP, you may be able to claim maternity allowance. With SMP you will get:

  • 90% of your average weekly earnings (AWE) before tax for the first 6 weeks
  • £139.58 or 90% of your AWE (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks
  • The last 13 weeks of your leave are unpaid

Speak to your employer - the above amounts are the minimum you'll receive if you're entitled to SMP. Some employers top this up! These payments are still subject to national insurance and tax deductions. Follow the link for more information on maternity pay.

Paternity leave enables Dads to spend time with their partner and new baby.

Leave can't start before the baby is born, but you don't have to start it immediately when the baby arrives. The only restrictions are- you must take it all in one go and you must have used it within 56 days after the baby is born.

To qualify you must have a contract and have worked for your employer for at least 41 weeks before the baby is due. You will receive one or two weeks off, which you must take in one go.

On top of this, you're entitled to time off to attend a minimum of two antenatal appointments with your partner.

Paternity pay

Pay is available to eligible working Dads during their paternity leave. to qualify you must:

  • have worked for your employer for at least 41 weeks before the baby is due
  • still be employed when your baby is born
  • earn at least £112 per week (before tax)

The statutory weekly rate is £139.58, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

Speak to your employer - the above amounts are the minimum you'll receive if you're entitled to Paternity pay. Some employers top this up! These payments are still subject to national insurance and tax deductions.

Follow the link for more information on paternity leave and paternity pay

Shared Parental Leave and pay

A new arrangement introduced in 2015 enables parents to split the leave and pay available when baby is born.

It means Dad can take up to 26 weeks leave, dependent on how much unused maternity leave and pay Mum has.

If Dad is entitled to Paternity leave and pay and Mum is entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay you can consider this option. The amounts available are the same as Paternity Pay (see above).

Follow the link for more information on shared parental leave and pay

There's a range of funding available to help pay toward the cost of raising a family. Some is available to everyone, regardless of circumstances and how much you earn. Some funding is only available to certain families, and depends on the family situation and income.

Most of the financial entitlements can only be claimed when your child is born, but you may be able to get some money before the baby arrives - don't miss out. Get more infomation below, or follow the link for other sources of funding and support for families.

Sure Start Maternity Grant

A Sure Start Maternity Grant is a payment of £500 to help toward the costs of having a child.

You usually qualify for the grant if:

  • You’ve no other children - unless you’re expecting a multiple birth (e.g. twins)
  • You receive certain benefits

If you've become responsible for a child who is under one year old (e.g. through adoption, residence order or appointed as guardian), you may also be able to claim.

You don’t have to pay the grant back and it won’t affect your other benefits or tax credits. If you’re expecting a multiple birth (i.e. twins or triplets,) you may still be entitled to claim, even if you already have a child.

Claim the grant between 11 weeks from your due date and three months after the birth, by printing off, completing and returning the SSMG claim form at gov.uk.

You'll need to get a health professional (a doctor or midwife) to sign the form before you return it.

Healthy Start Scheme

If you’re pregnant or have a child under four, you may be able to get free vouchers each week which you can use to buy milk, fruit and vegetables and vitamins. You get one voucher per week if:

  • You’re pregnant
  • Have a child aged between one and four years old

You get two vouchers a week if you have a child under one year old. In addition, you must be receiving one or more of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit (but only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit (but only if your family is receiving the 4 week ‘run-on’ payment)

You’ll also be eligible for the Healthy Start scheme if you’re pregnant and under 18, even if you don’t receive any benefits. Each voucher is worth £3.10 

Claim the grant by printing off, completing and returning the healthy start claim form.

You'll need to get a health professional (a doctor or midwife) to sign the form before you return it.

Congratulations! Your baby's here - life just got a whole lot busier!

You may be feeling joy, happiness, tiredness, stress and overwhelmed. However you're feeling- it's perfectly normal with such a huge change to your life. Most importantly, talk to your Midwife, GP or Health Visitor if you're concerned about the way you're feeling.

Below are some of the tasks you'll need to complete over the next few weeks. 

Registering the birth

You need to register the birth within 42 days. The Mum or Dad can register the birth on their own and include both parents' details if they were married when the baby was born or conceived.

Follow the link for much more information about registering a birth in Portsmouth.

Claiming entitlements

You're eligible to claim most benefits as soon as your baby is born. Follow the link for more information on financial family support.

If you're already claiming benefits contact the service who pays the benefit to update them of your change of circumstances, you may be entitled to more from these now that you have a child (or another child.)

For example, if you're in receipt of Job Seeker's Allowance, you need to talk to your Job Centre Plus advisor as you'll now be entitled to claim Income Support instead. Your advisor can give you more information about this.

If you're in receipt of Housing Benefit, you need to let the Housing Benefit team know as another person in the home can affect the number of bedrooms you need - which will affect the amount of housing allowance you'll receive. Follow the link for more information on Housing Benefit.

Register a Doctor and Dentist

You need to let your GP Surgery know when your baby is born and they'll give you an application to register your baby there. If you're not registered yourself, use the NHS Choices website to search for your nearest surgery with current vacancies.

You won't be able to arrange an appointment for your baby, until they have registered so don't wait until your baby requires medical attention to do this. Processing your registration can take up to a week so it's best to apply nice and early.

It may seem a little odd registering your baby at a Dentist when they have no teeth, but we’d advise you do this early on as there could be a waiting list.

It's advised you start taking your child to the dentist from a young age so that they get used to going. The Dentist's receptionist will suggest when your child should first attend - it could be as early as six months.

Health Visitor Clinics enable new parents to discuss child's health and/ or weigh their baby and no appointment is needed.

Parent and Baby groups provide parents with a great opportunity to meet other parents, get advice from professionals and generally have fun with your baby.

Some groups are focused on particular themes such as:

  • Breastfeeding
  • Baby massage
  • Learning through music

Visit the family information service for details of what's going on in your area.

The Children's Centres offer facilities such as stay and play sessions, singing groups, sensory sessions and dads' groups. Take a look at the timetable for your local centre for details of what's on.

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