New mums have opened up about the costs of having a baby amid the cost of living crisis.
Families are battling the biggest surge in prices in decades as shopping, childcare and energy bills soar.
It comes as the Scottish Government ramps up its Pregnancy and Baby Payment campaign encouraging eligible parents to apply for benefits to help them with the cost of raising children.
Dr Bell’s Family Centre in Leith provides a range of vital services for families in the area, working with babies from pregnancy to the child’s fourth birthday.
Mum-of-three Neneh Bojanj said she has been forced to cut back on her own expenses to make ends meet.
She came to the centre with her two-year-old son Sait and also has a son, aged 11 and an 18-month-old baby.
She said: “It’s blown out of control. The prices are totally crazy, you just can’t believe it.
“I’ve had to compromise to make sure the kids have what they have – you can’t compromise on nappies, milk and food.
“I cut back on clothes, snacks to make sure they have it.”
Neneh said she wants to work full-time but cannot afford childcare.
She added: “You can’t work the hours that you want because the childcare would use your whole salary at the end of the whole month – or you’re getting yourself into debt to pay for childcare.
“I’m living month to month. There is not enough support. It’s stressful.”
Suzy Maxwell is mum to ten-month-old Olly.
Her son has dietary restrictions which mean he can only eat dairy-free food – which drives up the cost of groceries.
“I’ve found it quite challenging,” she said. “He has to eat dairy-free milk, yoghurt and pouches which are more expensive.
“It’s also difficult to do a big shop with him in the first place. I find myself nipping into shops more frequently rather than doing one big shop.”
The Scottish Government are now encouraging expectant parents to apply for payments they are entitled to at the earliest opportunity to make sure they are getting all of the help available to them.
The Pregnancy and Baby Payment is £707.25 for first children and £353.65 for subsequent births and is the first Scottish Government benefit many people apply for.
There is no cap on the number of children a family can receive Pregnancy and Baby Payments for, if eligible.
But Suzy said she was unsuccessful in applying for the payments online herself.
She added: “I tried to do it online and it said the system was down. I phoned them and they told me to try again. This happened two or three times. It’s difficult finding the time to do that again.
“It’s really disappointing and you think ‘just forget it’.”
Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice Shirley-Anne Somerville visited the family centre in Leith.
She said: “We want eligible families to apply as early as possible for Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby payment and become aware of the range of support which may be available.
“We know that the next few weeks and months are exciting times for lots of families.
“The payment for a first child is more than £700 at a time of high inflation with the costs of buying food and clothes and all the other things which come with looking after a new born.
“There’s no cap on this benefit – every eligible family can get a Best Start Grant for every child they have.
“Our package of five family payments – Scottish Child Payment, Best Start Foods and the three Best Start Grants – can be worth around £10,000 by the time a child turns six and more than £20,000 by the time they turn 16.”
Danielle Campbell, Chief Executive of Dr Bell’s Family Centre said: “Dr Bell’s supports families from the beginning of their pregnancy journey and beyond.
“It is vital that mums-to-be and new parents know what support they can receive from as early as possible so that no parent is left struggling as this can impact their mental health and wellbeing.
“Our team work closely with Social Security Scotland to make sure that we are able to provide the right information and support in relation to the Best Start Grant Pregnancy & Baby Payment.”