WIMMERA residents have thrown their support behind a push to save Wimmera Health Care Group's Team Midwifery program.
A Horsham resident started an online petition after hearing about the program's axing on Friday.
When the Mail-Times went to press last night, the 'Save Team Midwifery' petition had received more than 400 signatures.
The program offered women an opportunity to be looked after by a small team of midwives, from pregnancy to birth to post-natal care.
Its aim was to provide continuous care and to establish a trusting relationship between the women and the midwives.
Women who chose the Team Midwifery program also saw an obstetrician.
Horsham mother of four Collette Okely discovered the service was no longer being offered to Wimmera women via Facebook.
"As soon as I saw it I thought, 'oh no, you can't do that'," she said.
"I have finished having my kids but I feel it's a great service and it will be a huge loss for the Wimmera."
Mrs Okely said the team offered amazing support.
"It takes a lot of the pressure off when you know there will be someone there who knows you and your partner and what style of care you want," she said.
"I have been pregnant five times - I had one miscarriage," she said.
"Team Midwifery delivered two of my children and also supported me through my miscarriage."
"You feel as if they really care about you not like you're just another woman having a baby"
Mrs Okely said her first baby was delivered by a doctor.
"I was seeing one doctor for my whole pregnancy, but when it came time to have Felicity that wasn't the doctor on call so I had a stranger with no bedside manner," she said.
"It was a horrid experience.
"For our second we went with a doctor again, but when it came to delivery, Zac came too quickly and I had midwives deliver him.
"Without hesitation I went with Team Midwifery for the next three pregnancies."
Horsham's Jenna Moar used the Team Midwifery service during all three of her pregnancies.
"The one-on-one care they offer is so important," she said.
"Giving birth is such a personal thing - it's nice to build a relationship with someone.
"You feel as if they really care about you not like you're just another woman having a baby."
Miss Moar urged Wimmera residents to sign the petition.
"It's such a disappointment the hospital has cut this service," she said.
She hopes community support for the program will encourage the organisation to reinstate it.
In response to the petition, Wimmera Health Care Group chief executive Chris Scott said it was pleasing to see the level of support and passion the community had for maternity services at Wimmera Health Care Group.
"The health service is always striving to deliver the best level of care possible, within the resources available, and will continue to do so into the future," he said.