Dr Tony Falconer, the new president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), claimed many inexperienced doctors working night shift on labour wards lacked necessary skills to ensure a safe child delivery.
Dr Falconer, a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said medical staff often undertook unnecessary caesarean sections on women, leading to some babies suffering catastrophic harm during their birth.
A disproportionate numbers of NHS payouts over alleged medical negligence in childbirth involve babies born overnight, he said.
Trainee doctors working overnight were sometimes too slow to realise that a new mother was still bleeding after a caesarean or to spot post-operative complications.
Other staff who train during the night, such as obstetricians and anaesthetists, are also less experienced than teams working during the day, with many junior obstetric doctors lacking technical skills to use forceps or vacuum to ease a baby's birth, he added.