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Rights to benefits and help while pregnant

Published 10 March 2016 by

During your pregnancy, you’ve probably got a lot on your mind, not least how you’re going to pay for it all! With a list of ‘things to buy’ as long as your arm and a baby’s room that you’ve still got to decorate, you’re likely to welcome all the financial help that you can get.

While pregnant you are entitled to certain benefits and help – in this guide we’re going to take you through what these are and how you can claim them.

Free prescriptions and NHS treatment

While you’re pregnant and for a year after your baby is born, you’re entitled to receive free NHS dental care in the UK. For the same period, you’re entitled to free prescriptions in England as well (these are already free in Wales and Scotland). To claim this, all you have to do is fill out the Maternity Exemption form (FW8) which you should be able to get from your midwife or doctor.

If you’ve been having dental-related issues, it’s worth going and getting these sorted out while you don’t have to pay for them. Some of the issues that you’re having could be down to your pregnancy, as sensitive teeth and gums can develop, so it’s worth seeking free treatment for this. The total savings that you’ll make will depend on the type of treatment or medication that you need but a standard check-up can cost around £18.80 while a prescription currently stands at £8.20.

Paid time off for antenatal appointments

If you’re working during your pregnancy, then you have the right to paid time off for antenatal care. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the job for and the time that you have off shouldn’t be classed as annual leave.

Antenatal care includes any medical and midwife appointments as well as any appointments that have been doctor-recommended like parenting classes or relaxation periods. The time that you have off should include travel to and from the appointment, and your partner or the father of the baby is entitled to take unpaid leave to join you at two of these appointments.

To arrange this just have a chat with your employer and inform them of the dates of your antenatal appointments. Try to give them as much notice per appointment as possible so they’re able to plan your workload.

Healthy Start food vouchers

You can receive Healthy Start food vouchers if you’re struggling with the cost of food. Healthy Start provides you with weekly vouchers for free milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, baby formula and vitamins. With the Healthy Start food vouchers, a pregnant women and her child (aged between one and four) will get £3.10 per week, while children under the age of one will receive £6.20 per week.

You’re entitled to this if you are at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under the age of four. You or someone in your household must receive one of the following benefits to apply:

• Income Support

• Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-based)

• Employment Support Allowance (income-related)

• Child Tax Credit

An exception to the rule is if you’re under the age of 18 and pregnant, as you can still receive these vouchers even if you don’t get any of these benefits.

To claim these vouchers speak to your midwife, health visitor or doctor. Alternatively you can speak to Healthy Start directly on 0845 607 6823 – this is recommended if you’re claiming Universal Credit.