To qualify for maternity leave and statutory maternity pay, a woman must be an employee; she must work under a contract of employment. In the same way that individuals who are self-employed are not bound by statutory legislation on, for example, sick leave or holidays, any period of leave to cover the birth of a baby will be a matter of personal decision.
However, as a self employed person you may be able to claim maternity allowance (as opposed to the statutory maternity pay due to employees) to fund the period that you will not be working, assuming you satisfy the criteria outlined in the claim form.
Maternity allowance can be paid for up to 39 weeks. To qualify, you must have been employed or self-employed in at least 26 of the 66 weeks before the week your baby is expected and have average weekly earnings of at least £30.
You should contact your local TaxAssist Accountant or local jobcentre plus office for further details, or alternatively visit the website www.dwp.gov.uk.