New research has indicated that more mothers are dying in childbirth than in previous years, with some clinicians inadequately trained to deal with potential complications.
A report printed in the British Medical Journal this week suggested there is a greater focus placed on the health of the unborn baby than that of the mother-to-be, with a growing number of women waiting until later in life to give birth.
Professor Catherine Nelson-Piercy of King's College London wrote: "The number of maternal deaths due to indirect causes has significantly increased over the past 20 years. Furthermore, most of these deaths are associated with substandard care."
She also pointed out that older women are at higher risk of conditions such as hypertension, thromboembolism and gestational diabetes. Prof Nelson-Piercy called on healthcare bosses to give "urgent attention" to current failings.
A study published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association last month noted an increase in the number of pregnant women suffering strokes between 1995 and 2007.