Help with healthcare costs: pregnancy and the first year


During pregnancy and the first year, every woman gets free prescriptions and free dental care.  If you are on a low income, there is more help available.  Make sure you don’t miss out.

It’s important that you look after your health when you’re pregnant and a new mother.  When you are focusing on your children, it’s so easy to forget to take care of yourself!


Free prescriptions and dental care

To reduce the costs of healthcare for new mums, all women receive free NHS prescriptions and dental care during pregnancy and for the first twelve months after they give birth.

You will need to get an exemption certificate to show the chemist or dentist when you are collecting your prescription or attending an appointment.

As soon as you know you are pregnant, ask you midwife or doctor for form FW8.  Send the completed form to your local health authority or health board.  You midwife or doctor can help with the address.

If you didn’t get your form in when you were pregnant, you can still claim after your baby is born.  You will need to fill in form A in leaflet P11 NHS prescriptions.  Your doctor or your local Jobcentre Plus should be able to give you a copy of the leaflet.


Healthy Start Scheme

If you are on a low income, you may be able to get more help with your healthcare costs.

The Healthy Start scheme provides women on low incomes with food vouchers and free vitamins.  The food vouchers must be spent on ‘Healthy Start’ foods which include cow’s milk, formula milk and free fruit and vegetables.

To apply, you must be at least 10 weeks pregnant.  If you have had your baby, you need to be within 12 months of your baby’s birth date.

You need to be receiving Income Support, income related Employment Support Allowance or income-based Jobseekers Allowance.  You are also eligible if you are getting Child Tax Credit and have a low household income.

Your child can continue to receive Health Start until their fourth birthday.

You can find out more about the scheme at


Help with fares to hospital

Women who are on a low income can claim the cost of travel to hospital.  This includes all your antenatal appointments as well as appointments after the birth.

To qualify, you or your family need to be receiving Income Support, income related Employment Support Allowance, income based Jobseekers Allowance or Pension Credit.  You also qualify if you get Child Tax Credit and you are on a low income or Working Tax Credit with a disability element.

You will be refunded for the cheapest mode of transport, which is usually public transport or petrol costs.  Bring your travel tickets or petrol receipts to the hospital administration desk, along with proof of your benefits or tax credit entitlement.


Other benefits

Take a look at MyFamilyClub’s guide to benefits for a simple break-down of what other benefits you may be entitled to. You might also want to check out our simple guides to Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit, the Sure Start Maternity Grant and Maternity pay.

Maternity Action also has a great information sheet on Money for Parents and Babies.