More than two-thirds of people in England think NHS spending cuts should not include maternity services, a survey has shown.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) found 79% of people in the north-east were against cuts, while 59% of all respondents believed maternity budgets would suffer due to the recession. Only 8% supported lowering maternity spending overall.
Each person surveyed was told maternity spending had fallen at least once in every UK region since 2001.
England needs 5,000 more midwives to meet government maternity care targets, such as individual support for mothers, according to the college.
RCM general secretary, Cathy Warwick, said: "There is no doubt that we need more midwives, and we recognise that the government are making progress on this and are putting money into the service. However, this progress has to continue into the future."
Rising birth rates would mean standards of care and services would drop without further investment, she added.
A Department of Health spokesman said: "It is not just about midwife numbers and we are focusing increasingly on the whole maternity team, which includes midwives, maternity support workers and doctors to offer women the choice of birth they want."