This week is something of a landmark in your baby’s development. Although a baby born at this stage would still need help with breathing, the lungs have matured to an extent that survival chances outside the womb are significantly better than earlier in the pregnancy.
It’s never too early to start thinking about the financial implications of maternity leave, and whether to return to work.
When you’re on maternity leave, it may be the first occasion that you haven’t worked for a long time. This change can be quite daunting, even though you know you’ll soon be busy looking after a baby. Depending on your contract, you’ll be entitled to varying amounts of pay during your maternity leave. If you’ve worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks (full or part-time) by the 15th week before your baby is due, you’ll be entitled to statutory maternity pay (SMP), an allowance set by the Government which can be paid for up to 39 weeks. You’re then entitled to a further three months of unpaid leave. This means that you could be off work for up to a year and still be able to return to your job. Some companies are more generous than others, offering a percentage of your salary during your maternity leave. Going on maternity leave may cause a significant drop in your income. You should talk to your partner about how much money will be coming in and going out and how you will manage a change in your finances.
Even though it’s a long way in the future, you might also start thinking about plans for working after the baby is born. You may think that you have no real option financially and have to return full time, but explore the possibilities of working more flexibly, or working part time, or from home one or two days a week. You may also want to start thinking about your childcare options.
Should you opt for disposables (use once, then throw away) or reusables (wash, dry, and use again)?
Disposable nappies are slim fitting, super absorbent, and will keep your baby dry, even overnight. However, they cost more (by some estimates, up to £1,000 per child by the time you start potty training) and there’s the landfill factor to consider. Eco-friendly nappies, however, are now available – they use no polluting bleaching agents and fewer chemicals are used to produce them.
Reusables cost less – although the initial investment is greater. They also provide a softer landing for toddlers who topple over. However, all that soaking, washing, and drying could get you down (plus there is an environmental impact). You may opt to use a nappy-laundering service each week (at a cost). Reusables need changing more often than disposables. They are slightly more difficult to put on and take off, but modern reusables are fastened with Velcro, not pins.
Using a combination of reusable nappies and disposable nappies can work well: buy the occasional pack of disposables for when you’re out and about or if you leave your baby with a babysitter, but opt for reusables the rest of the time.
Reusable nappies (left)cost less than disposables as they can be used over and over but washing and drying them is labour-intensive.Disposable nappies (right)are easy to use but more expensive.
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