A COMMUNITY group has called for "vital" birthing services to resume at Castlemaine's hospital, after they were suspended for a review.
Castlemaine Health "temporarily paused" birthing on Friday, to accommodate a six-week review of procedures, policies and processes.
The organisation said it was fully committed to retaining a birthing service, with no plans to close permanently.
But advocates have questioned why the services could not continue during the review.
It is not clear who initiated the review, or what triggered it.
It comes as the ABC released reports into the death of a baby under the care of Maryborough Hospital.
Support Birthing at Castlemaine Health spokesperson Arabella Davison said the group wanted birthing services resumed during the course of the review.
The three women booked in to deliver at Castlemaine this month were diverted to Bendigo Health.
Ms Davison said the service was vital for families in Castlemaine, and the surrounding region.
She said closing the service forced women from as far away as Maryborough, Romsey, Daylesford and Hepburn to travel further to give birth.
"To close the service has a really devastating impact on the women .. who are booked to birth there," she said.
"This is a very small hospital. It's been providing an outstanding service for many years, the statistics are brilliant."
Castlemaine Health released a statement following a Monday meeting re-iterating its plans for a review.
It said the organisation would work closely with Safer Care Victoria and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The review's stated purpose was to make sure policies, procedures and processes aligned to the requirements of a Level 2 birthing service.
These facilities provide maternity care for women experiencing uncomplicated, low-risk pregnancies.
Bendigo's Jacqui Naunton hoped to give birth at Castlemaine in November and December.
Mrs Naunton chose the smaller hospital in the hope it would be less rushed, with more continuity of care.
She had heard good reports from friends who had given birth there previously.
"Castlemaine you still get the care of a hospital, but it's a lot more homebirth-y in its experience," Mrs Naunton said.
"Because it's a lot smaller, it's a lot less rushed. I know at Bendigo there's a lot more people giving birth.
"It's more continuity of care, because there's only a few obstetricians or a handful of midwives."
Mrs Naunton said it was good for the region to have a different birthing option, whether or not she herself could give birth at Castlemaine.
Rural Doctors Association of Australia chief executive Peta Rutherford said rural birthing was safe, when it was done in a structured and well supported environment.
Ms Rutherford warned the loss of ante and post-natal care often came when birthing services shut, as staff wanted to perform their full role.
She said workforce availability was often an issue for smaller birthing services.
Ms Rutherford said when tragedy happened in a hospital setting it needed to be investigated, but warned against a knee-jerk assumption that maternity services were not safe.
She said systems could often be fixed to support safety and quality.
Castlemaine Health has announced it expects the review will take six weeks, with services recommencing on July 1.
The organisation offered its apologies for the women whose plans to give birth at Castlemaine Health had been disrupted.
It thanked the Mount Alexander Shire community for the strong interest shown in its maternity services.
The Department of Health and Human Services and Health Minister Jenny Mikakos have been contacted for comment.
Support Birthing at Castlemaine Health petition is available online at: bit.ly/3bMkxAW
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