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22nd Mar 2016

The Pregnancy Diaries: Week 29 – Maternity Leave

Big belly

There’s just over two months to go until babba comes cooing (and screaming) into our lives.

It’s time to look at the financial aspect of being new parents and while it’s a wonderful gift to have a child, reduced income is a daunting prospect for me. It’s also something we never really considered earlier in the pregnancy.

There are different rules that govern different types of employment. In general, this relates to PRSI contributions and of course your working arrangement.

Citizens Advice states: “Maternity Benefit is paid by the Department of Social Protection to women who have a certain number of paid PRSI contributions on their social insurance record and who are in insurable employment up to the first day of their maternity leave. The last day of work can be within 16 weeks of the end of the week your baby is due.”

So, if you qualify, the standard rate of benefit is €230 per week for 26 weeks. If you’re a full-time employee, your company may top this up to match your wage, but unfortunately this is not a mandatory requirement. The majority of us will therefore have to depend on savings, our partner or other sources. You can also get top-ups based on your circumstances (for example, if your partner is unemployed).


There’s lots of advice online but I have to admit to making several (mostly frantic) calls to the maternity benefit section in recent days to check my entitlements. In my case, I’m on a contract that expires at week 33 of my pregnancy.

Fortunately, I have paid enough PRSI and had been in work at the crucial 26-week mark. I have to admit, it’s a relief to know that I qualify for this money. While it still represents a reduced income, it sure is better than nothing.

My husband and I are now looking at our budget and areas where we can reduce expenses. This is not a bad thing, but I am worried about how he’s going to react when he has to fork out for my ‘essentials’ such as highlights!

Getting our house in order is a good stage to be at, but there are some things that I will just not cut back on.

Stay with us every week for more from ‘Big Belly’ as she continues her pregnancy adventure.