Around 150 pregnant women have trialled "personal maternity budgets", it has emerged.

The use of such budgets was a key recommendation of the National Maternity Review which was published a year ago.

Baroness Julia Cumberlege, chairwoman of the review, said the move gave women "choice".

Under the scheme proposed in the review, women would be told about all local providers of NHS care and the services they offer. They would then make decisions about how and where they received care using their own budget.

For instance, women may chose a provider which ensures continuity of care from the same midwife throughout pregnancy, birth and postnatal care, the authors of the review said.

Women would also be able to pick between a number of providers, for instance, they could pick a hospital near their workplace for routine scans and a hospital closer to home for the birth of their child.

In an interview with the Press Association, Baroness Cumberlege said key pilot schemes around the country had adopted various recommendations made in the review, including a number that were pioneering personal budgets for pregnant women.

Almost 150 women had already been given personal health budgets for maternity services including 43 in Cheshire and Hampshire and around 100 in Birmingham, she added.

Some women in Bolton, South West London and West Kent will be offered personal budgets from next week.

"We are very interested in the clinical commissioning groups which are pioneering personal services for women," she said.

"So this is giving women choice, who looks after them, where they have the baby.

"We are getting a number of women who are interested in it.

"At the moment it's not money they can spend on things like buggies or nappies. But it gives them choice."

Baroness Cumberlege also said the use of such budgets would lead to a reduction of the number of women turned away from labour wards, adding: "We know that labour wards are sometimes closed to women who are in labour and that is unacceptable so we have got to take the pressure off the labour wards, that's what we're trying to do."

Personal budgets should help achieve this as it would help more women give birth in the community, she added.

She said that surveys had shown that many women would choose to give birth at home or in a midwifery-led unit but end up giving birth on obstetric-led units.

Meanwhile, in a speech to a conference on injuries during childbirth hosted by the Royal Society of Medicine and the MASIC Foundation, Baroness Cumberlege added: "Women say 'This is the most seminal moment in my life and I did not get a choice'.

"Women want choice and they want to be in control."

The event, supported by law firm Leigh Day, was also the launch of the MASIC Foundation, a new charity which aims to support first time mothers who suffer anal sphincter injuries while giving birth.

Colorectal surgeon Professor Michael Keighley, president of the MASIC Foundation, said: "We hope that the MASIC Foundation will, over time, make a real difference to mothers having a baby.

"We will promote primary prevention through a change in midwifery practice, better detection and successful repair of injuries and a care pathway that supports mothers whose injuries were missed or where a repair broke down, so that they receive the best available advice and treatment."