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Midwifery and Maternal Child Health

Our research projects span internationally, nationally, and locally. We work on a wide range of research topics within the two specific research units of the Midwifery and Maternal Child Health cluster. Our projects involve studies for the WHO, UNICEF, and the NHS. The national clinical guidelines, including those for NICE, have cited our research studies. Our research projects have enhanced the clinical practice related to childbirth, maternal and infant health, and wellbeing.

The Midwifery and Maternal Child Health cluster co-ordinate a range of multidisciplinary regional, national and international meetings, networks and conferences; these include health practitioner and service user representation.


UCLan research within the Midwifery and Maternal Child Health cluster has influenced practice locally, nationally, and internationally, including:

MAINN staff have been involved in WHO and UNICEF global strategies for infant and young child feeding and the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding. The editorial office for Maternal and Child Nutrition (Wiley-Blackwell journal) is in MAINN Unit.

A range of commissioned health- and social care-based evaluations have led to the targeting, initiation, re-design and implementation of service delivery and accountability systems in several Lancashire-based National Health Services.

ReaCH research has contributed to the change in the definition of ‘normal birth’ in the collection of government maternity statistics, and has catalysed the establishment of the Royal College of Midwives’ Campaign for Normal Birth.

Studies undertaken by both research teams have been cited in national clinical guidelines, including those of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Internationally, both research teams have extensive collaborative links that are generating tangible impact, for example research in Pakistan on the provision of maternal and child health programmes.

ReaCH has led EU-funded work that has brought together researchers and stakeholders from twenty-six countries to design and implement a framework of best maternity care, culminating in an international on-line survey of maternity care that has generated thousands of responses. They have been co-authors in two Lancet Special Series, and advisers for WHO initiatives in maternity care.

Members of MAINN were among the 35 partners comprising more than 200 individual scientists from 17 European countries in the EURRECA (EURopean micronutrient RECommendations Aligned) Network of Excellence that developed building blocks to harmonise European micronutrient recommendations (funded by the European Commission).

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

Research in Childbirth and Health Unit (ReaCH)

This group uses a wide range of methods, from ethnography to randomised trials, surveys to phenomenology. Studies include:

  • the nature and outcomes of normal childbirth
  • new forms of clinical practice that optimise physiological childbirth
  • underlying factors in women’s choices around childbearing (with a particular focus on caesarean section)

Maternal and Infant Nutrition and Nurture Unit (MAINN)

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

  • global politics of infant and young child feeding
  • family-centred neonatal practice
  • supportive interventions for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding

To find out more about research in Midwifery and Maternal Child Health, contact Professor Soo Downe OBE or Professor Fiona Dykes

Tel: +44 (0)1772 893185 / Tel: +44 (0)1772 893828