Date last updated: 1 September 2021
Maternity as a single parent
Looking forward to the birth of a new baby is exciting. You will have lots of things to consider, including your finances. Here you’ll find step-by-step advice to allow you the time and space to make decisions and plan for the future.
You may have intended to bring up your baby as a single parent, or you might be dealing with the additional difficulties of a separation or a bereavement. Whatever your circumstances, here you’ll find information to help with some of the things you need to think about straight away.
Your work and finances
Planning your finances is a challenge for anyone having a baby. It can be difficult to work out your best options, but there’s lots of advice and support available to help you make the best decisions for you and your baby.
Trying to organise how your maternity period will work can be complicated, and will depend on what rights you have at work. If you are working, the charity Maternity Action has a useful checker in their section pregnant at work so that you can see what maternity leave you’re entitled to. You can also find out whether you will be entitled to maternity pay. There are checkers for those who are classed as employed as well as for those who are n’t classed as employed – for example if you’re an agency worker, or working as a contractor. It’s also important that you know your maternity rights at work. Maternity Action has also developed three short videos about rights at work during pregnancy and the steps for dealing with pregnancy or maternity-related problems at work that may help you.
First of all you need to find out if you’re entitled to statutory maternity pay. If you’re not you may be entitled to maternity allowance, or another benefit instead. As well as the money you’re entitled to from the government, you may be entitled to contractual maternity pay from your employer. This will be set out in your contract of employment. You can find more information on maternity pay in the Citizens Advice guide on parental rights at work.
You don’t have to repay statutory maternity pay, maternity allowance, or any benefits you receive from the government. If you get contractual maternity pay through your employer, you may have to repay the money if you don’t return to work for a certain amount of time. Check your employment contract for the details.
We have further advice and information available on your rights at work in relation to your pregnancy. Maternity Action has a free advice line as well as useful advice and information on their website.
Money and benefits
Once you have found out whether you’re entitled to maternity pay, and how long for, you can look into what other financial help you’re entitled to. Our factsheet on money during maternity, paternity and adoption is a guide to your finances, and explains what benefits and tax credits you could be entitled to, and at which stages. It also has a planner to let you know what you can claim at each stage of your pregnancy.
Knowing what benefits you could be entitled to and how much they will be is complicated when you’re pregnant. One of the most difficult calculations is what you could be entitled to depending on whether you are returning to work, and how many hours you intend to work for. The advisers on our helpline can work these complex calculations out for you, so that you know which options will work best for you.
Whether you can get affordable and suitable childcare will be a big factor in your decision about whether to return to work after maternity leave, and on what basis.
Sometimes it’s possible to get some help from your child’s other parent, family members and friends, but often it means paying for childcare. Choosing childcare is a big decision, especially if it’s the first time you’ve had to think about it.
Our Childcare section can help you work through your questions – whether that’s finding a childcare provider near you or looking for financial help for the costs of childcare.
You might be able to get help with the costs of childcare through working tax credits or universal credit. For more information on claiming tax credits for childcare costs see our factsheet on benefits and tax credits when you work 16 hours or more, or you can find more information about universal credit and childcare.
Looking after yourself
It can sometimes be helpful to read through stories from other single parents to hear how they have dealt with the ups and downs of single parenthood.
You might also want to share your experiences and get support from other single parents who have been through the same situation.
The NHS has an information service that sends you an email or a text every week during your pregnancy, and after your baby has been born.Sign up for NHS updates