In order to qualify for maternity leave and statutory maternity pay, a woman must be an employee, that is to say, she must work under a contract of employment.
Employees are, of course, entitled to sick leave, paid holiday leave and maternity leave as the employer is bound by legislation. This does not apply to self-employed individuals and so any period of leave to cover the birth of your baby will be a matter is entirely up to you.
Although you will not be entitled to statutory maternity pay, you may be able to claim maternity allowance to fund the period that you will not be working, assuming you satisfy the criteria outlined in the claim form. The current rate is £124.88 or 90 per cent of your gross average weekly earnings (before tax), whichever is the smaller. You should contact your local TaxAssist accountant or local jobcentre plus office for further details, or alternatively visit the website www.direct.gov.uk.