Nearly a third of new mothers go into debt due to taking maternity leave, while one in 10 cut their time off short to ease financial pressures, a study has suggested today.
Some 28% of those surveyed had gone into the red due to their time out of work, typically accruing almost £2,500 in debts, while just a quarter felt financially prepared for motherhood, according to research from uSwitch.com.
Some 11% of mothers said they had ended their maternity leave early to boost their ailing finances, while 9% said they had been forced to reconsider plans not to return to work.
Those mothers surveyed said their net monthly household income had dropped from £2,866 on average to £1,654 typically while they had been on maternity leave.
One in 10 people questioned said they had borrowed cash from relatives, while 14% had used credit cards, loans and overdrafts to help tide them over.
Families' incomes have been squeezed by high inflation and soaring bills, at a time when people are seeing little return on their savings due to three years of record low interest rates.
A recent study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think tank found that families with children stand to lose £511 a year on average under tax and benefit changes which came into force this month.
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls previously said the impact calculated by the IFS was proof of a "tax credits bombshell", with up to a million households losing eligibility entirely.
Justine Roberts, chief executive and co-founder of the Mumsnet website, said: "Statutory maternity pay at just over £100 a week after the first six weeks of maternity leave represents a real pay cut for most women.
"This, coupled with inflated fuel and food prices and the VAT increase, means that new mums are reporting feeling an exaggerated version of the pressures currently faced by most families.
"This Government promised to be the most family friendly in Europe, as things stand it still has a long way to go."
A Government spokesman said: "This is exactly why we have proposed changes to the current outdated maternity leave arrangements, replacing it with a new flexible parental leave model to better meet the needs of modern families and modern workplaces.
"Under the new system families can chose how to divide their leave with fathers being able take on more paid leave as a result. In particular this will benefit families where the mother is the main income earner in a household.
"In addition to this, we're taking millions out of tax altogether by raising the personal allowance, which is putting up to £126 cash back in people's pockets this year.
"The Chancellor has confirmed that working age benefits will go up by 5.2% in April and the child element of the child tax credit will increase by inflation from April - which could mean up to £135 extra per child. We also know that families are worried about the cost of living and so we've cut fuel duty and frozen council tax."
More than 1,000 mothers took part in the uSwitch study.
Check out the news of the day in pictures below:
Employees pose putting the finishing touches to new waxwork statues of Britain's Prince William (R) and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (L) as they are unveiled at Madame Tussauds in Blackpool, north-west England on April 19, 2012. The Duchess is dressed in an exact copy of the stunning Jenny Packham dress she wore for the ARK charity dinner, the first time she and Prince William appeared as a married couple. (Photo credit: ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images)
Ekaterina Samutsevich, a member of female Russian punk band Pussy Riot waves as she is escorted to the court in Moscow, on April 19, 2012. Three members of the all-woman punk band 'Pussy Riot' were detained two months ago, after they climbed on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral - the country's central place of worship - and sang a song they called a 'Punk Prayer'. The women have been charged with hooliganism committed by an organised group - an unusually harsh charge for protesters. (Photo credit: ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers detain a supporter of female Russian punk band Pussy Riot outside the court in Moscow, on April 19, 2012, before the hearings on the Pussy Riot case. Three members of the all-woman punk band 'Pussy Riot' were detained two months ago, after they climbed on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral -- the country's central place of worship -- and sang a song they called a 'Punk Prayer'. The women have been charged with hooliganism committed by an organised group -- an unusually harsh charge for protesters. (Photo credit: ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Andy Murray of Britain plays a return shot to Julien Benneteau of France during their match at the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters tournament in Monaco, Thursday, April 19, 2012. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
France's Julien Benneteau reacts as he lays on the ground after a fall during his match againt's British Andy Murray during the Monte-Carlo ATP Masters Series Tournament tennis match, on April 19, 2012 in Monaco. Murray won the match after Benneteau injured both his right ankle and arm. (Photo credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Two Iraqi women walk along a street in the capital Baghdad as a sand storm envelops the city on April 19, 2012. (Photo credit: SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Israelis pause during a two-minute siren in memory of victims of the Holocaust in the market in Jerusalem, Thursday, April 19, 2012. The day is one of the most solemn on Israel's calendar. Restaurants and places of entertainment shut down, and radio and TV programming focuses on Holocaust documentaries and interviews with survivors. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
France's incumbent President and UMP ruling party's candidate for the 2012 presidential election, Nicolas Sarkozy speaks during a campaing meeting on April 19, 2012 in the French city of Saint-Maurice outside Paris. (Photo credit: MICHEL EULER/AFP/Getty Images)
Newly-recruited Thai women rangers take part in a training session at a military camp in Narathiwat province on April 19, 2012. More than 5,100 people have been killed - both Muslims and Buddhists - in attacks across Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat since unrest escalated in January 2004, according to Deep South Watch which monitors the violence. (Photo credit: MADAREE TOHLALA/AFP/Getty Images)
Philippine marines carry a colleague acting as fallen enemy during an ambush simulation as part of the two-week PH-US military exercise inside the Philippine marines training center in Ternate town, Cavite province, south of Manila on April 19, 2012. The Philippines hailed the start of major war games with the United States on April 16, as a timely boost to the two nations' military alliance amid growing regional security challenges. (Photo credit: TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
One Direction fans wait at Auckland International Airport for the arrival of the band on April 19, 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. One Direction peforms to sold-out audiences in Auckland on Saturday and Wellington on Sunday. (Photo credit: Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Indonesian militant Umar Patek arrive in handcuffs and escorted by armed police commandos at the Jakarta court on April 19, 2012 in the resumption of his trial. Patek is the suspected bomb maker of the deadly 2002 Bali bombing. (Photo credit: ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi soldier walks past the debris at the scene of two car bombs close to the governate in the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk on April 19, 2012, which left several people dead. A wave of bomb attacks in four different provinces across Iraq killed at least 30 people security officials said. (Photo credit: MARWAN IBRAHIM/AFP/Getty Images)
Defence lawyer Vibeke Hein Baera (R) speaks to prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh (L) before Right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik arrives in room 250 of the central court in Oslo in Oslo on April 19, 2012. The trial against Anders Behring Breivik charged with committing 'acts of terror' when he slaughtered 77 people in twin attacks in July 2011 that shook the tranquil Scandinavian country to its core got under way Monday, 16 April. (Photo credit: DANIEL SANNUM LAUTEN/AFP/Getty Images)
A Myanmar woman hold a baby street in Yangon on April 19, 2012. The United States invited Myanmar's foreign minister and said on April 18 that democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who is traveling abroad for the first time in decades, had an 'open invitation.' AFP PHOTO / Soe Than WIN (Photo credit: Soe Than WIN/AFP/Getty Images)