A Whanganui advocacy group is concerned that proposed changes to its hospital's maternity care could increase pregnant women's anxiety.
The Whanganui and MidCentral District Health Boards have released a plan to move specialist care from Whanganui Hospital to Palmerston North.
The proposed change could force almost half the 400 women expected to give birth in Whanganui each year to travel to Palmerston North for specialist care.
The Womens Network in Whanganui says this will knock many of the women's confidence in Whanganui's health service.
However, one of the authors of the proposal, Dr Digby Ngan Kee, says problems with recruitment are driving the change.
The Regional Clinical Director for Women's Health says problems with recruiting and retaining obstetrics and gynaecology specialists at both DHBs have reached a level where current arrangements can't continue without risking the safety and quality of the care.
At the moment specialist care, such as medical inductions and epidurals, are provided at both Wanganui and Palmerston North Hospitals.
The proposal will have little or no impact on women in Wanganui with uncomplicated or low-risk births.