It can feel overwhelming to be pregnant – even more so when you’re worried about housing or homeless.
You might have just found out that you’re pregnant and worried you’ll be kicked out of home. Or perhaps you’re a few months into your pregnancy and your landlord is evicting you.
Whatever your situation, if you are pregnant and need housing, there is support out there for you. You don’t have to go through it alone.
On this page, we’ll cover the following topics and questions and tell you about the support that’s available out there. Contact the Centrepoint Helpline if you would like to talk this through.
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What housing support can I get if I'm pregnant or have children?
What benefits can I get if I'm pregnant or have children?
What are my options if I'm pregnant and homeless?
How can I get access to midwife appointments?
What plans should I make for giving birth?
What other organisations provide support to new parents?
If you are homeless, eligible and are pregnant or have children, you are ‘priority need’ and are entitled to support from the council.
If you are homeless or at risk of being homeless in the next eight weeks:
- Make a homeless application with your local council. Do this as soon as possible.
- If you have a social worker, also talk to them about your situation.
- If you are under 18, contact social services.
Will the council help me?
If the council finds you to be homeless, eligible and priority need, it must provide you with emergency or temporary accommodation.
You have housing rights when you are pregnant or have children. You are priority need if you:
- Are pregnant (regardless of how far along you are in your pregnancy). You will need a doctor or midwife's letter confirming you’re pregnant, so go to your GP as soon as possible.
- Have children under the age of 16, or under the age of 19, and still in full-time education.
What kind of housing will I get?
You will be provided with emergency or temporary housing while the council assesses your application. This could include a hostel or bed and breakfast, if no other accommodation is available.
Temporary accommodation may not necessarily be within your borough, though the council should take into consideration factors such as where your children go to school. However, it’s important to remember that if you turn down temporary accommodation, the council may not provide further help.
Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for longer-term housing. This might be a place in accommodation that’s specifically for mothers and babies. This type of housing is likely to have support workers to help you adjust to being a mum.
You could also approach local housing associations to help you find short- and long-term accommodation.
If you have a miscarriage, or choose to have a termination, you must notify the local authority. If the local authority has already decided you are priority need, they must still provide you with emergency or temporary housing.
How can I find a homeless shelter for pregnant mothers near me?
If you are pregnant, your local council should find you accommodation. If you’d like to find out about homeless shelters for pregnant women contact the Centrepoint Helpline and we will connect you to local services.
Our five tips if you are homeless and pregnant
- Know that you have rights. If you are homeless, eligible and pregnant you are ‘priority need’ and are entitled to support from the council.
- Remember that social services and housing teams are there to support and help you. They will work with you to keep your family together and well.
- Contact us to be referred to a local food bank. It’s especially important to eat well if you’re pregnant – your body is working extra hard. If you’re struggling to pay for food, contact us and we will register you for food bank vouchers.
- Know that prescriptions and NHS dental treatments are free throughout your pregnancy and until your child is a year old. Ask your midwife or doctor for an FW8 form.
- Look after yourself. Pregnancy can be tough, physically and emotionally. So look after yourself, as best you can, and reach out for support. There are organisations and services that can help.
There are several different types of benefits and financial support available to you if you’re pregnant or have children.
- Universal Credit and Housing Benefit. If you’re not working or on a low income, you can make a claim for Universal Credit. You can usually claim for housing payment as part of this benefit. You can also usually get Housing Benefit if you’re in supported accommodation or emergency/temporary housing.
- Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). If you receive Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit, you may also be entitled to a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). This is provided by your local council if you’re struggling to cover the cost of rent, or you can use it towards a housing deposit. You can apply for a DHP at the end of the first assessment period of your Universal Credit. You do not need to repay it.
- Sure Start Maternity Grant. You may also be entitled to this one-off payment of £500 to help cover the cost of your first child. You can apply for the Sure Start Maternity Grant online and send your claim form by post.
- Free NHS dental care and prescriptions during your pregnancy and until your child is a year old.
- Healthy Start food vouchers. You can access these vouchers if you are on Universal Credit or other forms of benefit and are 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under the age of four. They can be used for free milk, fruit, vegetables, infant formula and vitamins. Apply for Healthy Start food vouchers here.
If you’re under 18 and pregnant, you’re entitled to these vouchers regardless of which benefits you receive.
- Child Benefit. If you are responsible for bringing up a child, you will be entitled to Child Benefit. These are regular payments to help with the cost of raising children under the age of 16 (or up to 20 if they are still in education).
Being pregnant and facing homelessness can be very stressful – especially if your pregnancy wasn’t planned.
Understanding your options can help you to decide the route that’s best for you. You could:
- Continue with the pregnancy and become a parent
- Continue with the pregnancy and arrange for the child to be adopted or fostered
- End the pregnancy through termination.
Talking through your options
It can be a very difficult decision to make. But it is your choice. Talking through your options with someone outside of your family or friendship group can be very helpful.
- Talk to your GP who might refer you to a health worker.
- Ask your GP to refer you for counselling. You will be a priority for this as you’re pregnant.
- Contact a sexual health clinic who may allocate a support worker to you.
- You can search for other charities in your area. You can also contact:
Childline (if you're under 18)
If you’re under 18, you could speak to someone supportive and impartial at Childline to talk through your options.
Get a pregnancy test at your GP
To get help with housing, it’s likely you’ll need a letter from your GP or midwife. Even if you’ve done a home pregnancy test, visit your GP to be tested as soon as possible. You can go without a parent or carer if you're over 16.
Applying for fostering or adoption
You might not want to have an abortion or feel that being a parent is right for you at this time. In that case, you might choose to have the baby adopted or fostered.
If you decide to have the baby adopted or fostered, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to see them again. That might make it a really hard decision to make and you need to be sure it’s the right one for you.
It’s important to get the help and support you need. You could:
- Contact the children’s services or social work departments of your local authority or a voluntary adoption agency.
- Arrange to talk with social workers through your antenatal appointments or by contacting Citizens Advice.
- Approach a charity helpline, such as Childline (if you’re under 18).
- Talk to a counsellor. Speak to your GP for a referral or refer yourself.
- Contact an adoption support agency like the PAC-UK who support women who have had children who they have had adopted.
Terminating your pregnancy
If you feel that termination is right for you, you can:
- Self-refer to an abortion provider.
- Get a referral from a sexual health clinic or GP.
Waiting times vary but shouldn’t be longer than two weeks. It can be helpful to talk with a trained pregnancy counsellor if you want to. Ask your GP to refer you.
Most abortions in the UK are carried out before 24 weeks of pregnancy. As soon as you think you might be pregnant, contact a sexual health clinic, GP, midwife or charity. Sometimes it can be difficult to know if you’re pregnant early on – especially if your periods aren’t regular.
When you’re pregnant, it’s important to have regular midwife appointments to check on the health of you and your baby.
Antenatal care (the care you get before your baby is born) will include things like ultrasound scans, antenatal screening tests, blood tests and screening for medical conditions. If possible, you should see a midwife by 10 weeks of pregnancy.
How can I get antenatal care?
- Book an appointment with a GP.
- Contact your local maternity services directly.
- Contact your nearest children’s centre, who can help you contact midwifery services in your area.
GP practices can’t refuse you access to medical services because you’re homeless or haven’t got proof of an address. This is stated in NHS guidelines. As long as the surgery is accepting new patients, you have a right to register.
You might feel more comfortable to take someone with you to a midwife appointment. That could be your partner (if you have one), a friend, family member or your support worker.
If you are homeless and pregnant, you may get extra support from specialist midwives and community midwives. Ask about this during your first appointment.
Giving birth can be scary, but having plans in place can help you to feel calmer and more confident.
You might want to think about:
- Where you want to give birth.
- How you will travel to hospital.
- Who you want with you when you are in labour.
- What will happen after you give birth to the baby.
You can talk about this with your midwife.
If your unborn child has a Child Protection Plan, their social care professional, along with midwives, will help you plan for the delivery. If you are keeping the baby, a children’s social care worker may do an assessment after the birth to make sure both you and the baby are safe and well.
If you are not keeping the baby, your support worker will make a plan with you about finding suitable accommodation after you’ve had the baby.
Becoming a parent
It can be tough having a new baby. It’s important to get as much help as you can and to get suitable accommodation lined up before you give birth.
If your midwife or maternity support worker thinks you might be homeless or at risk of being homeless, they will ask you some questions to make sure you’re getting extra support. If you agree, they will refer you to housing services. This is called a Duty to Refer.
You’ll be given extra support if you are homeless, in temporary housing or living in poor conditions. You will be monitored by maternity services and children’s social care to make sure you and your baby are well.
Professionals you meet aren’t supposed to judge you – they are there to help you and your child.
You can search online for parenting support groups in your area. There are also organisations that provide practical and emotional support to new parents.
You can also contact:
Gingerbread (for single parents)
You might also like to listen to our podcast on being a young mum. It’s called Challenging Misconceptions Around Young Motherhood.
Amelia was 16 when she became a mother. She moved from a foster placement into our young parent’s service. Their staff supported Amelia with accessing and managing benefits, budgeting and staying in education. Amelia shares her story.Read more of Amelia’s story.
“My main struggle overall has been money. I had to wait a full month after I moved in to get my Universal Credit. I only had £60 a week to pay for food, nappies, baby milk, gas and electric.
However, once I was settled, things got easier. If there was anything I didn’t understand about my benefits, I could go to the office and the staff would help me. If I needed food, like beans or bread for example, I could go and ask them for help. I had that safety net when money was really tight.
I just loved my key worker Emma. I knew I could come to her with anything and she’d be able to help me. She still comes and visits now I’ve moved out into my own home. I don’t really have family to help me and having this support has really helped me move on successfully.”