Your rights, benefits and entitlements

Every person during pregnancy and childbirth has a right to:

  • safe and appropriate maternity care that respects their dignity
  • privacy and confidentiality
  • make choices about their own pregnancy and childbirth
  • equality and freedom from discrimination

For further information and translated resources about your rights in pregnancy and childbirth, check out Birthrights:


The Maternity Exemption Certificate (or FW8)

  • Entitles you to free prescriptions for yourself until your baby is 12months of age.
  • Can be used to prove your entitlement to free NHS dental treatment

To apply, speak to your midwife, doctor or health visitor; they can complete the online application for you.  You can apply as soon as they confirm that you’re pregnant.


Maternity Certificate (or Mat B1)

A Mat B1 form is a form from the government providing medical evidence of your pregnancy and your baby's due date.  It is filled in by your midwife or doctor and issued to you (free of charge) on or soon after 20 weeks of pregnancy; it cannot be issued before 20 weeks.

The Mat B1 enables you to claim:

  • Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from your employer
  • Maternity Allowance (MA) from Job Centre Plus

The certificate:

  • verifies your pregnancy
  • confirms the date of the expected week of confinement
  • confirms the actual date of birth when completed after confinement


Health Start Vouchers

If you’re pregnant or have a child under 4, the Healthy Start Scheme can help you buy basic foods like milk or fruit.  If you qualify for the scheme you’ll be sent vouchers you can use in over 30,000 shops in the UK.

You can also get coupons to swap for:

  • pregnancy vitamins
  • breastfeeding vitamins
  • vitamins for children aged 6 months to 5 years old


Sure Start Maternity Grant

You may be entitled to get a one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a child.  You usually qualify for the grant if both of the following apply:

  • you’re expecting your first child, or you’re expecting a multiple birth (such as twins) and have children already
  • you or your partner already get certain benefits

You must claim the grant within 11 weeks of the baby’s due date or within 6 months after the baby’s birth.  You do not have to pay the grant back and it will not affect your other benefits or tax credits.


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