We designed and internally validated an aggregate weighted early warning scoring system specific to the obstetric population that has the potential for use in the ward environment. Direct obstetric admissions from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre's Case Mix Programme Database were randomly allocated to model development (n = 2240) or validation (n = 2200) sets. Physiological variables collected during the first 24 h of critical care admission were analysed. Logistic regression analysis for mortality in the model development set was initially used to create a statistically based early warning score. The statistical score was then modified to create a clinically acceptable early warning score. Important features of this clinical obstetric early warning score are that the variables are weighted according to their statistical importance, a surrogate for the FIO2/PaO2 relationship is included, conscious level is assessed using a simplified alert/not alert variable, and the score, trigger thresholds and response are consistent with the new non-obstetric National Early Warning Score system. The statistical and clinical early warning scores were internally validated using the validation set. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.995 (95% CI 0.992–0.998) for the statistical score and 0.957 (95% CI 0.923–0.991) for the clinical score. Pre-existing empirically designed early warning scores were also validated in the same way for comparison. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.955 (95% CI 0.922–0.988) for Swanton et al.'s Modified Early Obstetric Warning System, 0.937 (95% CI 0.884–0.991) for the obstetric early warning score suggested in the 2003–2005 Report on Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths in the UK, and 0.973 (95% CI 0.957–0.989) for the non-obstetric National Early Warning Score. This highlights that the new clinical obstetric early warning score has an excellent ability to discriminate survivors from non-survivors in this critical care data set. Further work is needed to validate our new clinical early warning score externally in the obstetric ward environment.