The mat B1 - Maternity leave - how much can I afford?

I got my Mat B1 form at my 25-week midwife appointment. Actual proof that I am pregnant - as if my massive bump is somehow not enough.

Mat B1 form

Pregnancy insider blog

I've given it lots of thought. What can we afford? My husband and I talked about it at length and made plans. The main thing is money – how long we could afford for me to be off work. I only get statutory maternity pay from my employer, nothing extra. So after the first six weeks, where I'm paid at 90% of my current pay, I go down to £139 a week which will leave a big hole in our monthly income.

A few months ago my husband (who loves a spreadsheet) made one for our finances. He put in all the income and expenditure from now until October next year, a year after baby's arrival. We have a bit of debt to pay off and we also figured that we'd need to try and save some money to tide us over whilst I was off work. We'd also needed to factor in the cost of buying things for the baby. So we worked out each month where our money would go. This helped us figure out how much money we'd have to live on each month whilst I was off work and how long we could afford for me to off.

After all the maths, we worked out that with some scrimping we can afford for me to be off for the full 12 months. So I told work that I was going to take the full 12 months. (I know though that I can decide to come back earlier if I give eight weeks notice). There were a few comments along the lines of, 'Oh you'll want to come back before that.' And, 'You'll definitely be ready to come back after eight months'. I just smiled. Right now I really can't see that happening, but I'll keep an open mind and see how I feel at the time!

As soon as I'm on maternity leave I'll just want it to happen!

We also decided that I would work right up until two weeks before my due date. The longer I wait, the longer I'm in full pay. I'm also convinced I'll get bored if I have any longer off! As soon as I'm on maternity leave I'll just want it to happen (labour) and if I end up going overdue I could be spending nearly four weeks twiddling my thumbs, which I know would drive me bananas! If the baby comes early or I find I'm really struggling towards the end I may have no choice but to leave sooner but my plan is to hang on in there for as long as possible!

Of course, like with everything to do with pregnancy, everyone has an opinion. Some people have told me how they worked up to two days before and it was absolutely fine so they think I should do the same. I'd like a bit of rest, thanks! Others have told me how difficult it will be for me at work during the last few weeks and how tired I'll be and I really ought to be going off six weeks beforehand. You can't win!

So, I have 12 weeks left now and I'm sure it will fly by. Some days at work I think the baby can't come soon enough but others I think about how much I enjoy being at work and doing what I do so it will feel strange that not being part of my life for a period of time. I'm sure it will be filled instead with many new and exciting baby related challenges!

Read the next instalment of the Pregnancy Insider here

The pregnancy insider profile

Follow our Pregnancy Insider, the blogger who tells it like it is, by liking our Tommy's Midwives Facebook page. Our Pregnancy Insider is 29, lives in East Anglia, practices yoga and is a big fan of House of Cards - and she's pregnant with her first baby. Look out for her blog each week. 

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