The Health Secretary has ordered the first step in a top-level review of plans to end consultant-led maternity services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.
The proposals sparked protests when they were put forward last year.
The NHS says that the changes are down to safety.
If the plans were to go ahead, some mothers would then face a journey to Middlesbrough.
Jeremy Hunt has now asked an independent panel to report back to him next month, as to whether there should be a full review.
More top news
Clear spells. Showers. Brisk winds. Sunday looks like the better day
Two men whose grandfathers fought in the Tyneside Irish battalion and died together on the Somme have returned to visit their graves.
The Magpies have completed their third summer signing with the arrival of the winger from AFC Bournemouth.