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Expecting a baby

This advice applies to Scotland

There are a number of benefits and schemes in Scotland to support people who are expecting a child or have given birth. 

Financial support and benefits

If you are employed, recently been employed or self employed you should be able to get either maternity pay or maternity allowance to support you in the run up to the birth.  

Maternity pay for pregnant women

Maternity pay is paid by your employer. Read our pages on Maternity pay to see if you qualify. 

Maternity Allowance for pregnant women

You might be able to get Maternity Allowance if you can’t get statutory maternity pay. Maternity Allowance comes from the government rather than your employer.

You can usually get Maternity Allowance if you've been employed or self-employed for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your due date. You’ll need to have earned at least £30 a week for at least 13 of those weeks.

The rules about Maternity Allowance can be complicated. The best way to check what you can get are to use the calculator on GOV.UK or contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help.

Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment

This is a one-off payment to help towards the costs of maternity and baby items. You usually need to be getting certain means-tested benefits.

Check if you can get a Best Start Grant payment.

Child Benefit

It's best to claim Child Benefit as soon as your child is born. Your Child Benefit will be backdated to when the child was born - up to a maximum of 3 months - so you won't miss out on payments.

Read our pages on Child Benefit to find out how to claim.

Travel and food costs when a baby is in a neonatal unit

If your baby is premature or ill and is being treated in a neonatal unit at hospital, then you may be able to get help with the extra costs you have when you are visiting your baby. The scheme is called the neonatal expenses fund.

Read our page on Help with health costs to find out how to claim.

Free vitamins and the Best Start Foods scheme

All pregnant women in Scotland can get free vitamins. Your midwife should give you these when you are 6-10 weeks pregnant.

The Best Start Foods scheme provides a pre-loaded payment card which can be used to buy certain foods such as formula milk, fruit and vegetables. A claimant will usually only qualify if they are receiving one of a number of means-tested benefits. 

Read more about this on our Best Start Foods page.

Rights at work while you're pregnant

You have legal rights while you’re pregnant at work. These rights can protect you from unfair treatment, make sure your work is safe and give you time off for antenatal appointments.

Read our pages on Rights while you're pregnant at work for more information.

Maternity leave - mothers

You may have the right to take up to a year of maternity leave, depending on your employment status. 

Read our pages on Maternity leave for more information and to find out if you are eligible.

Paternity leave - fathers and partners

If you’re the baby’s father or the mother’s partner you’re entitled to 1 or 2 weeks of paternity leave when you and your partner have a baby. You can also take paternity leave when you adopt a child. 

Read our pages on Parental rights at work for more information and to find out if you are eligible.

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination

If someone treats you unfairly because you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or because you’ve recently given birth, you may have been discriminated against. The Equality Act 2010 calls this pregnancy and maternity discrimination. If you’ve been discriminated against, you may be able to do something about it.

Please read our pages on Pregnancy and maternity discrimination for more information. 

Baby Box scheme

All newborn babies in Scotland are entitled to their own Baby Box.

The Baby Box contains essential items such as:

  • clothing
  • a digital ear thermometer
  • a changing mat
  • a mattress to fit the box - with mattress protector and a fitted sheet.

How to get the box

At the 20-24 week antenatal appointment your midwife should fill in the Baby Box registration with you.

The box should arrive between 32-36 weeks of the pregnancy.

For more information on the Baby Box see the Scottish Government's ParentClub website.

Registering the birth

In Scotland every birth must be registered within 21 days of the birth. This applies even if the baby is stillborn or only lives for a short time. 

There is no fee for registering a birth. 

Read our pages on Birth certificates for more information.

Breastfeeding

The Breastfeeding etc (Scotland) Act 2005 gives you the right to breastfeed or bottle feed a child in public until a child is 24 months old.

In addition you cannot be discriminated against for breastfeeding a child in public up to the age of 26 weeks. This is the law under the Equality Act 2010, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of 'sex'.

Read our page on Breastfeeding for more information.

Further help 

Ready Steady Baby! is NHS Scotland's guide to pregnancy, labour, birth and parenthood until your child is 8 weeks old. The guide includes information on your baby's development, the care you will receive and mental health support during or after pregnancy. You can find the guide on the NHS inform website.

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