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
North East soldiers who died in the Battle of Jutland are among those remembered at a series of events on Orkney, in the Shetland Islands
A look ahead at the forecast for the Tyne Tees region
A dead whale has been found washed up on the beach at Marske, near Redcar