maternityA new study has found that as many as 45% of mothers-to-be feel that financial worries will force them back to work before their one year of statutory leave ends.

It revealed that a third are planning to return to work after between six and eight months at home with their new baby, while one in ten of the 315 pregnant women surveyed, said they would cut short their leave after as little as three to six months.

Clare Francis, from price comparison website, MoneySupermarket, which carried out the survey, said:

“Having to adjust your lifestyle to cope with the new arrival is hard enough, but with many couples seeing a fall in income due to one of them giving up work or taking maternity leave can heap further pressure on families when they least need it.”

Almost half of those polled said they were concerned about how they would cope with the cost of their new addition, and confessed that the stress had already led to arguments at home.

The Government confirmed plans in last week’s Budget for a tax-free childcare scheme worth £1,200 a child for working parents from 2015, prompting criticism that it was penalising stay-at-home mothers.

Currently, an estimated one in three mums-to-be will receive the minimum statutory maternity pay, giving them 90% of their wage for the first six weeks, followed by a maximum of £135.45 a week for the remaining 33 weeks of leave.

But with the cost of living continuing to rise, salaries frozen and many high-income families losing their child benefit thanks to means testing, taking the full 52 weeks of maternity leave is no longer an option for the majority of new mothers.

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