Can I add a bit more:
Maternity Benefit is payable like if you were working. So it stretches over a period of time and you can take it just like you would Maternity Leave. For example, my child was due in Feb and I took my Maternity Benefit from November to April.
A lot of folk do not realise that you can still claim this benefit if you have a 'partner' who is working. I was signed off from all work yet had a partner who was working so I didn't think I qualified. I didn't get the maximum allowance but I got something. I also didn't think I qualified as I had been working but I did. This was due to my employer not wishing to pay me.
Also single parent Child Benefit differs in amount from Married Child benefit. I think by about 2Â£ a week (could be a bit less or a bit more by now). And Child Benefit generally increases by Â£0.50 every April.
Not to forget that if you have a breakup - to obtain a Child Support form and start the ball rolling asap. Helpline number for that is: 0845 7134000 - if you prefer to speak in another language there are interpreters. (three afrikaans ones in the South East - one Xhosa, two Zulu)