Child Benefit will be given to every mother in the last months of pregnancy, Chancellor Gordon Brown has announced.
The increase will be worth up to £200, the chancellor said
Currently Child Benefit, which is £17.45 a week for a first child, is paid only once a baby is born.
But Mr Brown said he was now proposing that it should be given to all women from the 29th week of pregnancy.
The changes, announced in the pre-Budget report, will be worth up to a maximum £200 and will come into to force from April 2009.
The government's Healthy Start benefits scheme had currently been targeting poorer families.
But he said that as healthy eating was important for all women in the late stages of pregnancy, and in the early months of a child's life: "Help should be available to all mothers expecting a child.
"So Child Benefit will be paid on that basis for every mother - additional Child Benefit that recognises the important role at this critical moment that Child Benefit can play."