Hospitals are to be given millions of pounds to help spruce up their maternity wards, the Department of Health has announced.
Maternity units across the country can apply for a share of a £10m fund to improve birthing environments in hospitals, health minister Dr Dan Poulter said.
The money will be used for refurbishments and to buy items such as birthing pools, special birthing chairs and beds or comfy chairs for partners, he said.
It will be distributed in areas with high birth rates to expand existing facilities.
The cash should benefit around 40 hospitals across England, the Department of Health said.
In 2012 the government created a similar £25m fund, which was allocated to 100 hospitals.
Dr Poulter said: “Making sure families receive a good experience when having a baby in NHS maternity units is a top priority for me, as both a doctor and a health minister.
“Since 2010 we have already seen huge improvements to maternity services right across the country. We have more midwives working in more midwife-led units, record numbers of midwives in training, more birthing pools, and more family rooms. More mums and babies are being helped to have the best start in life.
“This investment in maternity care is all already making a big difference to families, with more choice and a better environment where women can give birth.”
Royal College of Midwives chief executive Cathy Warwick added: “This £10m fund is very welcome. Last year, the first tranche of funding has made a big difference to our maternity units and women and their families are experiencing better facilities. I look forward to seeing further changes in 2014.”
The Royal Free in London was given £250,000 in February 2013 to improve and upgrade its maternity unit.
A spokeswoman said that the money was used to create a contemporary “home from home” maternity environment for women and their partners.
She said: “Facilities for partners staying overnight both before and in the days following birth have been provided, these include two fold out beds in the birth centre and 39 reclining chairs in each room across the unit.
“The refurbishment of bath and shower rooms has also taken place and birthing balls, mats, chairs and bean bags have all be purchased and are available for women in labour.”
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