A group of leading experts claims that more midwives and obstetricians need to be recruited if safety during childbirth is to be ensured.
In a joint announcement, the heads of key Royal Colleges published new guidelines on how care for women in labour and their babies can be improved.
The document, "Safer Childbirth: Minimum Standards for the Organisation and Delivery of Care in Labour", sets out the need for higher staffing levels and stresses the need for access to specialist care.
The report has been published by the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCOA), Midwives (RCM), Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), and Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).
Maggie Elliott, president of the RCM, welcomed the report's proposals, which include ensuring women in labour receive individual one-to-one care from a midwife, and that all women requiring conduction or general anaesthesia are seen and assessed by an anaesthetist before an elective procedure.
She said: "Women and their babies sit at the heart of these recommendations, which address many of the issues affecting the delivery of safe, quality care wherever women give birth.
"Midwives will welcome the focus on direct communication, the need for better staffing levels and a commitment to respectful and equitable relationships between all members of the maternity care team."