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Network leads

We are experienced midwives and a parent advocate/researcher, with passion and drive to promote and support evidence based maternity care, to maximise potential for women to experience physiological childbirth whenever possible. 

                  Lucia Rocca-Ihenacho

                Lucia Rocca-Ihenacho

Lucia studied Anthropology and trained as a midwife in Italy where she worked as an independent midwife. She moved to London in 2002 to pursue a clinical academic career. 

As a senior clinician and an academic with broad experience of leadership, management of staff and resources, Lucia is one of only two midwives in England awarded a Doctoral Clinical Academic NIHR Fellowship.

Lucia's track record includes contributing to the creation of innovative ways of delivering maternity care with a public health focus such as a case-loading for vulnerable women and a freestanding birth centre, which achieved a 45% of waterbirths and a 9% CS rate.

Lucia's experience of mentoring midwives in clinical practice includes a wide range of settings, from home births in London to the mountains of rural Afghanistan.
Lucia views normal birth as a means to achieve high quality care, which is safe, cost-effective and engenders positive experiences.

Since September 2014, Lucia has worked as as a consultant midwife in public health at St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust in South West London, and she is working to complete her PhD ‘an ethnographic study of the philosophy, culture and practice in a freestanding urban midwife-led unit’.

I am invited internationally to provide consultancy on midwifery-led care and on how to set up Midwiery Units.



                 Sheena Byrom OBE

               Sheena Byrom OBE

Sheena is a practising midwife, and worked in the NHS for more than 35 years. Sheena was one of the UK's first consultant midwives, and successfully helped to lead the development of of three birth centres in East Lancashire whilst working as the head of midwifery.

Sheena is a board member of the Royal College of Midwives, a member of the RCMs Better Births initiative, and Chair of the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust.

Sheena is regularly invited to lecture nationally on midwifery and childbirth related topics, and her midwifery memoirs, 'Catching Babies' is a Sunday Times best seller. Sheena's absolute passion is promoting and supporting physiological childbirth, and positive birth experiences for all women. 

Her latest book, The Roar Behind the Silence: why kindness, compassion and respect matter in maternity care is jointly edited with Professor Soo Downe, and together they hope the book will be used as a resource to promote positive childbirth throughout the world. 

Sheena was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to midwifery, and she actively lobbies for maternity service improvements through several social media channels.

Sheena is currently working as an independent midwifery consultant, and is invited to speak regularly on childbirth, and midwifery related topics. Sheena also works as a midwifery expert, and her website is


                       Felipe Castro 

                     Felipe Castro 

Felipe is a consultant midwife in normality and public health, at Barts Health NHS Trust. Felipe is passionate about normalising childbirth, and has a special interest in the development of midwifery units (birth centres).  

After obtaining a BSc in nursing at the University of Seville (Spain), Felipe moved to the UK to develop his academic career and obtained an BSc in midwifery at City University.  

Felipe has worked for the NHS for more than 10 years, during which he has worked with various private and public organisations including NICE Institute, Care Quality Commission, Gerson Lehrman Group and a number of UK universities. 

Felipe's experience includes working as a midwife at the Barkantine Birth Centre, intrapartum co-ordinator and lead for normality and triage at the Royal London Hospital, whilst undertaking research and lecturing on a part-time basis. In 2013 Felipe obtained an MSc in Public Health and Health Economics, at Queen Mary University of London. Between 2013-14 Felipe worked as the senior research midwife and UK lead for SALVO, a large multi-centre NIHR portfolio study. He was a member of the Trial Management Group, and Trial Steering Committee. 

Felipe teamed up with Lucia in 2008 when they created their first 'Workshop for Midwives', to help the opening of a birth centre in Ostia (Roma). With Lucia, Felipe is currently involved in several educational and research projects with a focus on midwifery units, keeping birth normal, and enhancing midwifery knowledge and skills. 



                     Mary Newburn

                   Mary Newburn

Mary is mother of four, now adult, sons, and has been working as a service user advocate since the 1980s. She is passionate about the need for woman-centred, quality maternity services and has a particular interest in choice of place of birth and birth centres. 

Mary is now working as a consultant health researcher, and advocate/enabler of public and 'patient' - or parent - involvement (PPI). Mary previously worked for the NCT, the UK's pregnancy and parenthood charity, as an antenatal teacher, policy researcher, editor, user involvement/MSLC supporter and change advocate.  

As a co-investigator on the Birthplace in England Research Programme, which included quantitative and qualitative research, a mapping survey and economic analysis, Mary was a vocal advocate for comparing normal birth rates for different birth settings, and for focusing positively on benefits, such as access to immersion in water, not just risks.   

Mary’s academic background is Sociology (BSc, LSE) and Public Health: Health Services Research (MSc, LSHTM). Her dissertation was An emerging model for maternity care: a pilot ethnographic study of an inner-city birth centre. See also Newburn M.  The best of both worlds - Parents' motivations for using an alongside birth centre from an ethnographic study. Midwifery 2012;28 (1):61-6. 

The University of West London (then Thames Valley University) made Mary an honorary professor. She works with Oxford University/NPEU, University College London, King's College London and City University on research, representing parents and encouraging public involvement (PPI).

Mary's website is