There is "a serious shortage of midwives" in Britain according to a report by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
The NMC report also highlighted concerns about the variations in levels of investigations conducted by the Local Supervising Authority (LSA) – impartial organisations responsible for ensuring the statutory supervision of all midwives across the UK.
It said maternity services, health authorities and the Department of Health must also act on concerns about the quality of care provided to mothers and babies.
While the analysis identified areas of best practice and demonstrated that supervision of midwives was an effective means of safeguarding the health of the public, it did raise a number of concerns.
Among these was a significant increase in birth rates – as much as 5% in some areas – without a corresponding increase in midwife numbers.
There was also a reduction in the number of midwives volunteering to become supervisors of midwives.
Jill Crawford, President of the NMC, said: "The analysis clearly shows that while effective supervision of midwives improves practice, more needs to be done.
"As the regulator, our primary concern is to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the public. LSAs play an important part in ensuring that women and babies across the UK receive high standards of care."
"Midwives also have to do a large amount of paperwork, attend study days (such as equality and diversity, food hygiene, etc) as well as do clinical care. Midwives get tired of doing non-midwifery care at work and doing extra things for work outside their working hours, and leave the profession." - Rozalind Peel, Lancaster