1. Academic experts
  2. Research students
  3. Students
  4. Alumni
  5. Senior people at City
  6. Non-academic staff
  7. Honorary graduates

Contact Information


Visit Lucia Rocca-Ihenacho

M104, Myddelton Street Building

Postal Address

City, University of London
Northampton Square
United Kingdom



An academic midwife with broad experience of leadership and management of staff and resources, I am passionate about supporting the development of positive team culture and implementation of innovations in practice.

My NHS track record includes contributing to the creation of innovative ways of delivering maternity care with a public health focus such as a case-loading midwifery team for vulnerable women and a freestanding midwifery unit.

I have experience of mentoring midwives in clinical practice in a wide range of settings from home births in London to the mountains of rural Afghanistan.

Optimum Birth is an essential part of providing high quality care. This includes supporting all women to achieve a positive birth experience, including those with conditions which might preclude them from pursuing a normal birth care pathway. I see Optimum Birth as a means to achieve high quality care, which is safe, cost-effective and engenders positive experiences.

I worked until October 2015 as a Consultant Midwife in Public Health at St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust and I am now based at City, University of London where I work as a Lecturer and researcher.

I am a co-founder and CEO of the Midwifery Unit Network which is an international community of practice to support the development, implementation and enhancement of midwifery units across Europe.

I am invited internationally as a consultant to support the development of midwifery units and to train the interdisciplinary team. I am an Advisory Forum Member of the Royal College of Midwives.
Within maternity services my work focuses on midwifery-led care, midwifery units, development of midwifery skills, interdisciplinary training for Optimal Birth and dealing with obstetric emergencies in midwifery-led settings.

I am currently an NIHR Fellow and my main areas of research expertise are: qualitative research, meta-synthesis, Implementation Science, Participatory Action Research and development of complex interventions.

I particularly enjoy working on change facilitation and an organisational cultural shift towards staff engagement and shared leadership. I also focus on improving the birth environment aiming at enhancing staff and service users’ wellbeing.

I am a member of the Maternity Transformation Stakeholder Council and the Pa-London working group on how to improve midwifery unit. I am a reviewer for several peer-reviewed journals such as BJOG, International Journal of Childbirth, Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare and Anthropology in Action, Midwifery as well as a reviewer for the International Normal Labour and Birth conference. I am an invited speaker at several international conferences.

My educational focus is on:
• Midwifery skills development
• Philosophy, knowledge and skills for Optimum Birth
• Interdisciplinary learning
• Use of simulation labs for maternity staff training
• Partnership in decision-making in maternity care
• Dealing with obstetric emergencies in midwifery-led settings


  1. Postgraduate Certificate Academic Practice, City, University of London, United Kingdom, Mar 2017 – May 2019
  2. PhD, City, University of London, United Kingdom, May 2010 – May 2017
  3. MSc Midwifery, City, University of London, United Kingdom, Sep 2003 – Mar 2006


  1. Member of Strategic Policy Committee - Global COVID Perinatal Taskforce, Birth Place Lab, Mar 2020 – present
  2. Member of Stakeholder Council, NHS England, Oct 2019 – present
  3. Member of Increasing Births in MLU Working Group, NHS England, Sep 2019 – present
  4. NIHR Knowledge Mobilisation Fellow, City, University of London, Apr 2016 – Mar 2019
  5. Consultant Midwife for Public Health, St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, Sep 2014 – Sep 2015
  6. NIHR Research Fellow, Barts Health NHS Trust, London, Apr 2010 – Jun 2014
  7. Research Fellow, Barts Health NHS Trust, London, Dec 2006 – Mar 2009
  8. Senior Midwive, Barts Health NHS Trust, Apr 2004 – Nov 2006
  9. Midwife, Barts Health NHS Trust, Apr 2002 – Apr 2004


  1. Development and Skills Enhancement Award, NIHR, Jan – Dec 2020
  2. Knowledge Mobilization Fellowship, NIHR, Apr 2016 – Mar 2019

Memberships of committees

  1. Midwifery Advisor, Advisory Panel Royal College of Midwives, Feb 2015 – present

Memberships of professional organisations

  1. Member of the group as an expert on Midwifery Units, NHS England Pan-London Midwifery Unit Toolkit Group, Mar 2020 – present
  2. Stakeholder Council Member, NHS England Maternity Transformation Stakeholder Council, Feb 2020 – present


English (can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review), Italian (can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review) and Spanish; Castilian (can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review).


Chapters (3)

  1. Rocca-Ihenacho, L. and Dooris, M. (2019). Healthy settings and birth. In Downe, S. and Byrom, S. (Eds.), Squaring the Circle Researching Normal Birth in a Technological World ISBN 978-1-78066-440-8.
  2. Morano, S., Donati, S., Begley, C., Lindstrom, L., Papa, R., Rocca-Ihenacho, L. … Chersevani Giolito, M.R. (2019). Birthplaces choice: safety, satisfaction, sustainability. Procreare in Sicurezza. Partorire in sicurezza. Nascere in sicurezza Rome: Department of Health.
  3. Rocca-Ihenacho, L. and Dooris, M. Healthy settings and birth. In Downe, S. and Byrom, S. (Eds.), Squaring the Circle: researching normal childbirth in a technological world Pinter & Martin. ISBN 978-1-78066-440-8.

Journal articles (11)

  1. Rayment, J., Rocca-Ihenacho, L., Newburn, M., Thaels, E., Batinelli, L. and Mcourt, C. (2020). The development of midwifery unit standards for Europe. Midwifery, 86. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2020.102661.
  2. Yuill, C., McCourt, C. and Rocca-Ihenacho, L. (2020). Pop-up’ birth centers? Considering COVID-19 responses and place of birth in England. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, June(2020).
  3. Rocca-Ihenacho, L. and Alonso, C. (2020). Where do women birth during a pandemic? Changing perspectives on Safe Motherhood during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Global Health Science, 2(e4). doi:10.35500/jghs.2020.2.e4.
  4. Rocca-Ihenacho, L., Yuill, C. and McCourt, C. (2020). Relationships and trust: Two key pillars of a well-functioning freestanding midwifery unit. Birth. doi:10.1111/birt.12521.
  5. Coates, R., Rocca-Ihenacho, L., Olander, E., Ayers, S. and Salmon, D. (2019). A postgraduate Optimum Birth module to increase midwives’ readiness to work in midwifery-led settings: A mixed-methods evaluation. Birth, 46(3), pp. 533–539. doi:10.1111/birt.12399.
  6. Leon Larios, F., Nuno Aguilar, C., Rocca-Ihenacho, L., Castro Cardona, F. and Escuriet, R. (2019). Challenging the status quo: women's experiences of opting for a home birth in Andalucia, Spain. Midwifery, 70, pp. 15–21. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2018.12.001.
  7. Walker, S., Batinelli, L., Rocca-Ihenacho, L. and McCourt, C. (2018). ‘Keeping birth normal’: Exploratory evaluation of a training package for midwives in an inner-city, alongside midwifery unit. Midwifery, 60, pp. 1–8. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2018.01.011.
  8. Rocca-Ihenacho, L., Byrom, S. and Newburn, M. (2017). The Midwifery Unit Network: creating a community of practice to enhance maternity services. The practising midwife, 20(6), pp. 24–27.
  9. Schroeder, L., Patel, N., Keeler, M., Rocca-Ihenacho, L. and Macfarlane, A.J. (2016). The economic costs of intrapartum care in Tower Hamlets: a comparison between the cost of birth in a freestanding midwifery unit and hospital for women at low risk of obstetric complications. Midwifery. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2016.11.006.
  10. Macfarlane, A.J., Rocca-Ihenacho, L., Turner, L.R. and Roth, C. (2014). Survey of women's experiences of care in a new freestanding midwifery unit in an inner city area of London, England - 1: Methods and women's overall ratings of care. Midwifery, 30(9), pp. 998–1008. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2014.03.013.
  11. Macfarlane, A.J., Rocca-Ihenacho, L. and Turner, L.R. (2014). Survey of women's experiences of care in a new freestanding midwifery unit in an inner city area of London, England: 2. Specific aspects of care. Midwifery, 30(9), pp. 1009–1020. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2014.05.008.

Reports (3)

  1. Rocca-Ihenacho, L. and Newburn, M. (2018). Midwifery Unit Network: the first three years. London: Midwifery Unit Network.
  2. Rocca-Ihenacho, L., Batinelli, L., Thaels, E., Rayment, J. and Newburn, M. (2018). Midwifery Unit Standards. City University of London.
  3. Yuill, C., Soria, J., Rocca-Ihenacho, L., Reeve-Jones, C. and McCourt, C. (2018). The Barkantine Birth Centre: Celebrating 10 years as a Community Hub. London: Barts Health NHS Trust.

Other Activities

Collaboration (industrial)

  1. of CEO of the Midwifery Unit Network project (Feb 2019 – present)
    Sponsored by City, University of London
    Other partners: Chantelle Winstanley, Richart Hallet, Ellen Thaels, Laura Batinelli

Media appearance

  1. NHS urged to turn hotels into birth centres during crisis.