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
A dry day with bright or sunny spells. Rain comes through overnight into Sunday morning, before drier yet fresher weather develops
A look ahead at the forecast for the Tyne Tees region.
A businessman who ran three international export companies from his County Durham home has been jailed after an investigation by HMRC