Skip to main content

Maternal and Infant Nutrition and Nurture Unit (MAINN)

The MAINN Unit is an interdisciplinary group that focuses upon complex political, cultural, psychosocial and economic influences upon maternal and infant nutrition and nurture.

We adopt a bio-psychosocial perspective that recognises the interactions between biological, psychological and socio-cultural factors in relation to maternal and child nutrition.

We are also interested in the nature of the relationship that is engendered between mother and infant as a consequence of various kinds of nutritive and nurturing behaviours with a particular emphasis upon breastfeeding.

We also focus on the care of the preterm infant and in ways of enhancing the parent–infant relationship in the neonatal unit context. The agenda of MAINN is firmly grounded in public health.

We have worked on WHO, UNICEF, EU, UK Government (DH), NHS, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), British Council, Wellcome Trust and Australian Research Council (ARC) funded projects.

This research group contributes to the cross-disciplinary research sub-theme Evidence for Societal Change.

Strategic objectives:

  • To conduct distinctive, interdisciplinary, internationally recognised research and scholarship in maternal and infant nutrition and nurture.
  • To engage with local, national and international strategic initiatives.
  • To embrace public health, social exclusion and diversity agendas with regard to the field of maternal and infant nutrition and nurture.
  • To maintain and build upon strong and stable external partnerships and collaborations to include the DH, NHS, NICE, UNICEF and WHO.

With a team of multidisciplinary staff and PhD students working internationally, nationally and locally on a range of projects, areas of expertise include:

  • Global politics of infant and young child feeding
  • Supportive interventions for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding
  • Maternal and child nutrition
  • Psychosocial perspectives on nutrition and nurture of infants and children
  • Parent–child relationships in Neonatal Intensive Care Units across Europe
  • (e-learn & on-campus) – Dr Victoria Hall Moran Professional Doctorate in Health
  • (e-learn & on-campus)MSc Midwifery
  • Maternal and Infant Nutrition: Bio-cultural perspectives (MW 4109) – Dr Victoria Hall Moran
  • Psycho-social Influences and Impact on Maternal, Child and Family Health (MW4033) – Dr Gill Thomson
  • (e-learn) Hermeneutic methodology course, 2021 

Visiting Professors

  • Rafael Perez-Escamilla
  • Virginia Schmied
  • Dr Renee Flacking

Visiting Fellows

  • Dr Tanya Cassidy

For further information please contact: Professor Gill Thomson

  • SCENE Collaboration Group
  • Research in Childbirth and Health Unit (ReaCH)
  • Nutritional Sciences and Applied Food Safety Studies (NSAFSS) Group’)

2015-2017 EU Horizon 2020 - Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND, Individual Fellowship for Dr Tanya Cassidy (Ireland). Dykes F (PI) 195,455.00 Euros to UCLAN.

2015-2017 Healthy Children Faculty (USA) - RESPITE postnatal study. Hall Moran V, Thomson G (Joint PIs), £15,000 to UCLAN (Employing RA from RST – 60 days).

2015-2017 Best Beginnings/DH - A realist evaluation into the implementation and outcomes of Best Beginnings interventions. Thomson G, Hall Moran V (Joint PIs), £45,000 to UCLAN.

2014-2015 Birth Companions Research Project. Thomson G (PI), Balaam MC. £5,250 to UCLAN

2014-2015 Best Beginnings/DH Evaluation of Parental Perceptions of ‘Small Wonders’ DVD in NICUs. Dykes F (PI), Thomson G, Crossland N - £30,000 to UCLAN.

2014-2016 Evaluation of BF Peer Support Provision – Gill Thomson (PI), Funded Blackburn with Darwen Council (£14,985).

2014-2017 NIHR Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research & Care (CLAHRC) Funded full-time Doctoral Studentship. Heather Ohly - An evaluation of the impact of Government funded Healthy Start programme on the infant feeding practices in NW England. Hall Moran V (DOS), Dykes F, Lowe N, Crossland N ~£60,000 to UCLAN.

2013: NIHR Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC). Improving Public Health and Reducing Health Inequalities. Theme Leader: Popay J (Lancaster); Co-applicants: Whitehead, Capewell, Barr, Milligan, Hollingsworth, Zucchelli, Hatton, Holland, Limmer, Downe S (UCLAN), Dykes F (UCLAN). Total Grant: £1,499,830.

2011-2013: NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme. BIBS; Benefits of Incentives for Breastfeeding and Smoking cessation: a platform study for a trial (Stirling, UCLAN, Aberdeen, Newcastle, Glasgow). Hoddinott P (PI - Stirling), Dykes F (PI - UCLAN), Bauld L, Campbell M, Ludbrook A, Sniettahotta F. Total Grant: £322,127 with £64,372 to UCLAN.

2011-2014: The Jirga and its potential for community engagement in research in North West Pakistan – an ethnographic exploration. Lowe N (PI), Lhussier M, Zaman M, Dykes F. Funded by Wellcome Trust: International Engagement Awards WT096707MA, £30,000 to UCLAN.

2013: The International Closeness Survey. Lehtonen L (PI), Hugill K and the SCENE group.

2013: The Emotional Closeness Project. Flacking R (PI Sweden), Thomson G (PI England), Axelin A (PI Finland) and the SCENE group.

2013: Evaluation of Baby Friendly accreditation: peer support and evidence of impact for building social capital. Thomson G (PI) NHS North Lancashire. £21,847 to UCLAN.

2013: Breast milk Demonstration. Thomson G (PI) Breastfeeding Network (BfN), £4,995 to UCLAN.

2012-2017: MAINN: Awarded Strategic Health Authority (Cumbria and Lancashire) Doctoral Studentship - Christopher Smith. ‘Obesity and complementary feeding: beliefs and practices in North West England’.

2010-2015: MAINN: Awarded Strategic Health Authority (Cumbria and Lancashire) Doctoral Studentship - Anna Byrom. ‘Macro-interventions into micro-cultures: WHO/UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative.

2009-2013: A study of contemporary family, social and cultural influences on first-time mothers' decisions about infant feeding and early parenting practices. Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant application number: LP0991564, Schmied V (PI), Fenwick J, Gribble K, McGrath D, Sheehan A, Dykes F. Grant to UWS: Aus $94,000.

2008-2012: Four year commissioned longitudinal evaluation of implementation of WHO/UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI), NHS North Lancashire. Dykes F (PI), Thomson G, Bilson A. £86,000 to UCLAN.

  • Thomson G, Bilson A, Dykes F (2012) Implementing the WHO/UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative in the community: a 'hearts and minds' approach. Midwifery 28, 258–264.
  • Thomson, G and Dykes F (2011) Women’s Sense of Coherence of Infant Feeding. Maternal and Child Nutrition 7, 160-174.
  • Thomson G, Dykes F, Bilson A, Putsey J & Whitmore M. (2010). Tackling the Infant Formula Industries. Public Health Nutrition, 13 (1), 149–150.

2009-2011: Commissioned longitudinal evaluation of breastfeeding peer support project (as part of WHO/UNICEF BFI) in NHS Blackpool. Dykes F (PI), Thomson G, (Year 1 funded by NHS Blackpool, Year 2/3 by BfN). £43,000 to UCLAN.

2009-2010: Perceptions of vulnerable groups re: Maternal and Child Health Services in NHS Central Lancs. Commissioned by NHS Central Lancs. Dykes F (PI), Thomson G. Income: £14,000 to UCLAN.

  • Thomson G, Dykes F, Singh G, Cawley L, Dey P (2013) A public health perspective of women’s experience of antenatal care: an exploration of insights from a community consultation. Midwifery. 29, 211-216.

2010-2011: Socio-cultural influences upon women’s perceptions and experiences of breastfeeding and associated maternity service provision. NHS Ashton, Wigan and Leigh, Dykes F (PI) £20,000 to UCLAN.

2010-2011: DH commissioned evaluation of the Information Feeding Information Team (IFIT) set up in North West England (to establish a national model). Thomson G (PI), Dykes F, DH £45,000 to UCLAN.

  • Dykes F, Richardson-Foster H, Crossland N, Thomson G (2012) ‘Dancing on a thin line’: Evaluation of an Infant Feeding Information Team to implement the WHO Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. Midwifery 28, 765-771.

2010: Self Efficacy Evaluation of DH Antenatal packs. Thomson and Dykes DH £4,700 (Consultancy)

2010-2011: Expert Testimony – National Social Marketing Centre/NICE: Social marketing of breastfeeding: impact on breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks. Dykes F (PI) £5,000 to UCLAN (Consultancy).

2011: Commissioned Evaluation of the National Breastfeeding Helpline. Thomson G (PI), Dykes F. DH (National Breastfeeding Network) £40,000 to UCLAN.

2009-2011: Postdoctoral Research Fellow appt. Dr Renee Flacking. Comparative Neonatal Unit ethnography with focus on infant feeding practices (Sweden and England). RF received Visiting Fellowship from UCLAN. Dykes F (PI), Flacking R. Funding from Åkerham & Engström Foundation, Faculty of Medicine, Uppsala University £50,000.

2008-2010: University Western Sydney (UWS) Research Committee Competitive Grants. WHO/UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative: Exploring the implementation and dissemination of a global policy. Schmied V, Sheehan A, Dykes F (joint PIs). Grant: Aus $23,967

2007-2012: Eurreca Network of Excellence. Harmonising nutrient recommendations across Europe with special focus on vulnerable groups and consumer understanding. FP6036196-2(FOOD). Funded under the EC Framework 6. 13.2 million Euros for consortium over 5 years. Aggett P, Dykes F, Hall Moran V, Lowe N: £160,000 to UCLAN.

2007: Dykes commissioned by DH (North West Public Health) – to co-ordinate team in writing Addressing Health Inequalities: A North West Breastfeeding Framework for Action. £5,000.

2007-2008: Consultant on TrustTECH Service Innovation Project, East Lancs NHS Trust. Evaluation of Community Breastfeeding Peer support ‘Little Angels’ £1,200.

2006: Weight monitoring in infants and young children. Review for NICE - DH (Sachs M and Dykes F), DH. £4,363.

2005: Consultancy contract for Public Health Collaborating Centre for Maternal & Child Nutrition (funded by NICE), University of York. Project: Practitioner review and ratification of NICE Breastfeeding guidelines: £4,500.

2003: Synthesis of ~80 DH funded infant feeding projects. DH funded Competitive tender. Dykes F (PI) £20,000.

  • Dykes F (2005) Government funded breastfeeding peer support projects: Implications for practice. Maternal & Child Nutrition 1, 21-31.
  • Dykes F (2003) Infant Feeding Initiative: A Report Evaluating the Breastfeeding Practice Projects 1999-2002. DH, London, UK.

2001: Breastfeeding support: targeting adolescents. Competitive DH funded research grant. Dykes F and Hall Moran V. £20,000 (£5,000 additional funding from UCLAN).

  • Hall Moran V, Dykes F, Burt S, Shuck C (2006) Breastfeeding support for adolescents: similarities and differences in the approach of midwives and qualified breastfeeding supporters. International Breastfeeding Journal 1, 23.
  • Hall Moran V, Dykes F, Edwards J, Burt S, Whitmore M (2005) An evaluation of the breastfeeding support skills of midwives and voluntary breastfeeding supporters using the Breastfeeding Support Skills Tool (BeSST). Maternal & Child Nutrition 1, 241-249.
  • Hall Moran V, Dykes F, Edwards J, Burt S, Whitmore M (2005) An evaluation of the breastfeeding support skills of midwives and voluntary breastfeeding supporters using the Breastfeeding Support Skills Tool (BeSST). Maternal & Child Nutrition 1, 241-249.
  • Dykes F, Hall Moran V, Burt S, Edwards J, Whitmore M (2003) Adolescent mothers and breastfeeding – experiences and support needs: an exploratory study. Journal of Human Lactation 19, 391-401.