I'm worried about taking time off work

If you or your partner are having to take time off work to care for your baby in hospital or other children at home it can have a sudden impact on your finances.

Although it can be very difficult, it's really important to keep on top of your finances if there's been a sudden change in income.

We know this can feel overwhelming when you are worried about your baby but there is support to help you with this. Find out more below.

Or take a step back to explore childcare costs for older children..

What can I do if I have to take time off work?

If you haven't already done so, it's important to check with your employer to make sure you are getting all the help you are entitled to. What you're entitled to will be affected by your employment status. If you're unsure of what your employment status is, you can find more information through ACAS.

All employed mothers and birthing parents are entitled to some leave from work when their baby is born. Many fathers and non-birthing parents are entitled to leave if they meet qualifying criteria.

Some parents are entitled to pay if they meet certain qualifying criteria.

You can find information about leave and pay for maternity, parental leave and adoption on the NI direct website.

Or you could contact Maternity Action, who are specialists in maternity rights including leave and pay.

Some employers offer additional leave or pay. They might also be able to provide extra support, for example compassionate leave or flexible working arrangements.

It's a good idea to ask your employer about how they could help in your specific situation.

Check you are claiming benefits you are entitled to

It's worth checking you are claiming any benefits you are entitled to.

Being on a low income or unemployed means that you are likely to be able to claim benefits which can help you. You are also entitled to benefits if you have additional long-term costs such as for care needs.

The benefits system can be complicated and it can help to have some support from an expert, particularly if you are dealing with the extra stress of your baby being unwell and on a neonatal unit.

If you're on a low income, it's worth checking you are claiming any benefits that you may be entitled to.

Who can I ask for help with claiming benefits

You can ask hospital staff as they might know about people who can help you claim benefits.

Some units are able to provide family support workers, who often know about benefits, or volunteers with time to help you think through what your options are. You might be put in touch with your local Citizens Advice or support from your local council. Most services will be able to talk to friends or relatives on your behalf.

The Advice NI website has information about benefits, and Turn2us have a benefit calculator. This can take some time to complete, but will give you information specific to your situation.

It's very normal to feel embarrassed or unsure about asking for help with finances. But health professionals know that having a baby on a neonatal unit can cause hardship and pointing you in the direction of support on this is part of their role.

Advice on managing your money

There are several organisations offering free financial advice that might be able to support you while you are in hospital and offer some practical steps. This can be especially helpful if you've suddenly had a big change in your income due to not being able to work and finding it difficult to pay monthly bills such as your mortgage or rent.

We understand that not everyone would feel comfortable talking about their finances with someone they don't know. It's a personal and individual choice and there may be another family member, friend or member of your community such as through a faith group who could support you with ideas and suggestions.

Look after your mental health and be aware of warning signs

Financial worries can have a huge impact on your mental health and it's really important to recognise any warning signs such as leaving financial emails or post unopened, or not sleeping well.

A loss of income while your baby in hospital is a stressful situation and it's important to seek support to help you, which can help give you the space you need to focus on your baby.

Take a look at our information on the main Bliss website on mental health for parents of babies on neonatal units, including how to get help, how you might be feeling and how common it is.

I would like to talk to someone at Bliss

We are here to help you with emotional and practical support.

Get in touch at hello@bliss.org.uk

We are here Monday to Friday, except bank holidays.