Skip to main content

Research in Childbirth and Health Unit (REACH)

The Research in Childbirth and Health group has a specific interest in understanding ‘what works well’, in the complex, real world of clinical practice and service organisation, especially where unexpectedly positive outcomes are achieved.


The key clinical focus is around the nature and outcomes of normal childbirth. The group undertakes studies of complex interventions, using a wide range of methods, from ethnography to randomised trials, and from surveys to phenomenology.

Collaborators currently engaged in research projects with ReaCH include midwives, obstetricians, service users, nurses, complementary therapists, psychologists, statisticians, social scientists, sociologists, health economists, medical specialists, and biological scientists.

This mix provides an environment that allows for open discussion of research ideas across clinical and academic disciplines.

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)

ReaCH research has contributed to a 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.

Mw 4052: Normal childbirth, evidence and debate

Professor Soo Downe

Dr Carol Kingdon

Marie-Clare Balaam

Kenneth Finlayson

Dr Anastasia Topalidou

For more information contact:

Professor of Midwifery Studies, Dr Soo Downe, tel: +44 (0) 1772 893815 

Maternal and Infant Nutrition and Nurture Unit

Phenomenological study of midwifery and leadership

Systematic review of studies of maternity care expertise