Mothers will receive one-to-one care from a named midwife during labour and birth as part of government plans to combat postnatal depression.
Women who have a miscarriage or stillbirth and parents who are forced to cope with the death of a baby will also be offered increased support from the NHS.
Under the new plans, health workers will be given enhanced training so they can spot the early signs of postnatal depression which leaves mothers feeling low and struggling to look after a child.
The move was welcomed by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and parenting forums as a positive step.
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, termed the pledges “very good news” for women and midwives.
“These are positive plans from the government targeting areas of maternity care that are under prioritised and under-resourced,” she said. “The impact of a miscarriage or a stillbirth can be devastating for the woman and her family and, postnatal depression can be a crippling and sometimes fatal illness. Early detection and treatment is crucial.
“It is also excellent to see an intention to ensure that long standing NHS commitments, such as one to one care in labour and choice about where and how women give birth, become a reality for all women.”
According to the RCM, 5,000 more midwives would be needed to deliver the care proposed.