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Surgery, pregnancy and parenthood

We believe in supporting surgeons during pregnancy and throughout parenthood. Last year, we scrapped membership fees for those on parental leave. And to coincide with International Women's Day this year, we are launching our new parenthood profiles whereby surgeons share their experiences of balancing work and family life.

Below we have signposted key areas to consider and useful resources.


  • There are pros and cons to having a family at any stage of your career and this is a very personal decision.
  • In order to get paid maternity leave, you must have an employer at 11 weeks before the baby is due. If in training, additional time may be required to ensure competencies are attained.

Working while pregnant

  • A risk assessment must be carried out, and arrangements made to mitigate any risks identified. You may wish to take advice from Occupational Health. You are entitled to paid leave to attend all your maternity appointments, including parenting classes.
  • The law allows a pregnant woman to decide whether to adjust her duties for X-ray exposure.
  • Ultimately you can decide what is right for you e.g. when to stop on calls or night shifts.
  • Don’t forget to submit a MATB1 certificate to your employer. This will be provided by your GP or midwife at 20 weeks and enable you to claim Statutory Maternity Pay.


Maternity leave

  • Any NHS employee is entitled to Maternity Leave, for up to 12 months. It can start 11 weeks before the baby is due, and you continue to accrue pension contributions and annual leave.
  • You must let your employer know, in writing, at least 15 weeks before the baby is due, of the date you intend to start your maternity leave.
  • You can attend optional, paid Keep in Touch days.

Other types of leave

Returning to work checklist

  • You need to give your employer at least 28 days’ notice of your intention to return.
  • The Health and Safety rights of pregnancy also apply a woman who is breastfeeding or has given birth within the last 12 months. If you are breastfeeding, plans for expressing milk e.g. a private space, time and cool storage should be identified as part of a back to work assessment.
  • You have a right to return to your job under your original contract or you may choose to return less-than-full-time. Read more about less-than-full-time training or working, or contact our flexible working advisor at
  • The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has “return to practice” guidance for anyone who has been away for over three months for any reason.
  • Childcare, whether your partner, a nursery, a nanny, family, friends or other support should be planned ahead, and back-up plans made in case of unexpected emergencies.

The above content is correct as of November 2019. Please be advised that facts may change and you should always refer to the current guidelines.

Further Resources

Maternity advice and guidance

BMA maternity checklist:

NHS Employers information for rotational Junior Doctors in training:

Medical Women’s Federation Maternity Advice:

Leave and pay calculator:

Working with X-rays when pregnant:

Occupational radiation exposure and pregnancy in Orthopaedics:

Absences from the Foundation programme:

Women in Surgery:


Returning to work advice and guidance 

Return to work guidance (for any leave over three months):

BMA advice: Life as working parent:

Health and Safety Executive information for new and expectant mothers:

RCS flexible training and working in surgery:

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