THE number of Scots women giving birth in their early forties has soared by almost 70% over the past 17 years, figure show.

Between 2000 and 2017 births to women in their early forties rose by 68% to 1,907 births while the number of babies born to women in their late thirties, 35-39, rose by 32% to 9,745.

A report by the Royal College of Midwives warns that rising obesity levels and the increasing age of pregnant women are placing extra strain on midwifery services, compounded by vacancies rising.

The proportion of overweight and obese pregnant women topped 50% for the first time last year in Scotland reaching 51%, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) report found.

Mary Ross-Davie, RCM director for Scotland, said: “There are some great things happening in our maternity services in Scotland, not least the very ambitious Best Start maternity programme.

“However, pressures on our midwives are increasing - the care needs of the women in our care are rising, while the number of unfilled midwifery posts is also rising.”