Women sentenced to jail in the Northern Territory will be able to stay with their newborn babies or young children in a purpose-built facility at Darwin's new prison.
The old Berrimah prison has had to make accommodation for young children within its existing women's wing, the Commissioner for Correctional Services, Ken Middlebrook, told ABC 105.7 Darwin.
But the new Holtze prison's facility just for mothers would be ready to use when the jail opens next month, he said.
"It's a separate cottage with five bedrooms that's separated from the remainder of the women's accommodation, and it's got its own playground, exercise area out the back that caters for small children," he said.
"The whole facility is set up so that mothers can actually manage their baby and children within the facility and not have to worry about contact with other prisoners."
Former prison guard Sarah Rudd, 26, is yet to be sentenced after pleading guilty to corruption charges. She has a six-month old baby boy.
Justice Jenny Blokland has asked Corrections staff about the possibility of the child staying with his mother in the prison.
Rudd's defence lawyer John Tippett QC has asked for his client to be placed in home detention.
Mr Middlebrook would not comment specifically on that case but said there was an increasing trend of pregnant women and mothers of newborns being sentenced to prison terms, although numbers were still small.
"It's becoming more frequent than it was in the past," he said.
"We've had four babies and mothers with babies in Darwin now in the 10-year period, which is not a big amount, and I think in Alice Springs over seven years we've had seven mothers with children."
In 1982, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton's daughter Kahlia Chamberlain was born in Royal Darwin Hospital while her mother was in Berrimah prison.
She was placed with two foster families until her mother was released from jail when she was three years old.
The commissioner said the Northern Territory has a policy that children can only stay with their jailed mother until they are two years old.
But he said the longest time a mother had served in jail with her child was seven months.
Mr Middlebrook said Corrections would have to determine that it was in the child's best interest to stay with its mother in the new facility.
He addressed concerns that a child could effectively be imprisoned for its mother's crime.
"I just pose the question, is it right to take a newborn baby away from a mother?" he said.
"I don't think the child has done anything wrong. By removing the child away from the mother in some cases, you are creating a difficulty for the child.
"I would think it's far better to have the child with the mother than putting that child into foster care."