Female companion, or in some cases husbands, of a pregnant woman can now be present to provide support to her during child birth at public health facilities.
The decision by the Union Health Ministry to allow "birth companions" during deliveries at public health facilities can reduce Maternal and Infant Mortality Ratio in the country, said a statement by the ministry.
The ministry said the presence of a female relative is a low - cost intervention that has proved to be beneficial to women experiencing labour.
Birth companions are women who have experienced the process of labour and provide continuous one - to - one support to other women experiencing labour and child birth.
"While several measures have been taken up by the Ministry over the years aimed in reduction in MMR and IMR, this step signifies India's commitment under SDGs to further accelerate initiatives with specific focus on quality parameters of the interventions, " the ministry said.
The current Infant Mortality Rate of India stands at 52 per 1, 000 live births while the Mother Mortality Rate stands at 167 per 1, 000.
Among the guidelines the ministry set for eligibility includes the birth companion has to be a female relative and preferably one who has undergone the process of labour, should not suffer from any communicable diseases.
The World Health Organisation promotes labour companionship as a core element of care for improving maternal and infant health.