Everyone wants to give their baby the best start in life. As soon as you know there’s going to be a baby, you can start worrying about just how you’re going to do that. There can be a lot of pressure on modern mothers to make the right choices, but what those might be aren’t so easy to work out. And even if you have an idea of what you think might be best, it’s not always possible or practical. Money is a big thing to consider, and not all parents can afford to have a one-income household. When you’re thinking about how to give your baby the best start, you should take these things into account.
Benefits Available to You
If you need some financial help during your pregnancy or after the birth, you should make sure you know what’s available to you. While you’re pregnant, you can get free dental treatment on the NHS, and this continues until your baby is a year old. During the same period, you also get free prescriptions if you live in England (Scottish and Welsh people get free prescriptions all the time). You can also get paid time off for antenatal appointments. Some other useful benefits that might help you include working tax credits, the Sure Start Maternity Grant, and Healthy Start food vouchers.
If you’re in work, you’re usually entitled to statutory maternity leave and maternity pay, although there are some conditions. You can take leave for up to a year, but pay is for only 39 weeks. The first six weeks are paid at 90% of your average earnings, while for the next 33 you get £140.98 (or 90% of your earnings if it’s less). Dads can get paternity leave and pay for up to two weeks and can take parental leave instead of the mother. You can find out a bit more about employers’ obligations at Ellis Whittam. Many new parents decide they can’t afford to take their full leave, even if they would like to. Although you might feel guilty, you need to decide what’s right for your family overall. Bonding with your baby is important, but so are healthy finances.
If you need to look for childcare for your baby, it can be a tough decision. Perhaps you don’t like the idea of leaving your baby with anyone, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some lucky people have the help of a family member, such as a parent. But you might also look at childminders or nurseries as possible options. Make sure you feel comfortable with your choice and that you research your options thoroughly.
What’s Best for Your Baby?
In any situation, deciding what’s best for your baby is hard. It’s important to know when to listen to literature and general opinion, and when to make a different choice. For example, breastfeeding might generally be accepted as best for babies. But feeding them at all is more important than where their food comes from.
Giving your baby the best start doesn’t mean following one path. You need to do what’s right for you, your baby and your family.