When considering the best time to go on maternity leave you should keep in mind that being pregnant with twins, triplets or more can be physically demanding. It’s a good idea to leave a period for rest and relaxation at the end of your pregnancy. Most people who’ve experienced this recommend stopping work at some time between 28 and 30 weeks.

There’s no universally agreed date to start your maternity leave. How long you continue at work will depend on the kind of tasks you do there, your health, how the pregnancy is going, how flexible your employer can be if you have one, and how you feel.

If you are carrying triplet or higher order babies, or have any health complications, you may need to stop working before this. 

The earliest date you can start your maternity leave is 11 weeks before your babies are due. Your maternity leave will automatically start the day after your babies are born if they're early or if you're off with a pregnancy-related illness in the four weeks before your due date.

A woman pregnant with twins, triplets or more

Maternity Pay

If you are in permanent employment, you are entitled to take one year’s maternity leave. You can receive Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from your employer for nine months (39 weeks), with some employers also offering additional pay. Maternity leave is per pregnancy not per child, so unfortunately you don't get any extra for twins, triplets or more.

The amount you get depends on your earnings.

  • For the first six weeks of SMP, you'll get 90% of your average weekly earnings (there is no upper limit). 
  • For the remaining 33 weeks, you'll get  £172.48 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower). 
  • Some employers also offer additional maternity pay over and above this.

You will be able to work for a total of ten days during your maternity leave without losing entitlement.

To claim SMP, you need to tell your employer when you want it to start, and you have to do this by the 15th week before the babies are due (they will need to see your MATB1 maternity certificate, available from your midwife or doctor at around 20 weeks of pregnancy). You are entitled to change your mind but must give your employer 28 days’ notice.

You can still get SMP from your employer even if you don’t intend to return to work and you won't have to pay it back. Please discuss with your employer if you are receiving a company based maternity pay as this may be different.

Self-employed women and others not entitled to SMP may be entitled to Maternity Allowance (MA). The amount depends on your gross average weekly earnings. You will get the standard rate of MA, which is £172.48 a week or 90 per cent of your gross average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. The rules are slightly different for women holding a Small Earning Exemption Certificate, and it is best to consult the DWP website.

If you don't qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance because you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work, you might be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance. Visit the DWP website for more details.

If a twin, triplet or more pregnancy affects your health so that you have to stop work before you are entitled to maternity benefits, you may be able to claim sickness benefits instead.


Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) is a right for parents which may allow you to share leave with a partner. SPL lets you and your partner share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay after your babies are born. You can decide how to split the leave and pay between you. You can take the leave in blocks or spread it out over time, as long as your employer agrees. The pay you get for SPL is similar to SMP. To find out if you're eligible visit the gov.uk website.