Friday, August 03, 2007

Pregnant Inmates Need Doulas, Too

In honor of Nicole Richie's newly-announced pregnancy - and the fact that she may soon be spending time behind bars for a DUI conviction - I give you this wonderful article by Amie Newman, Pregnant Behind Bars: The Prison Doula Project. Amie interviews Christy Hall, the co-founder and Development Coordinator for The Birth Attendants, which started the project:
"A lot of the issues that are the general issues for pregnant women are magnified in prison. For instance, which provider will you choose for pregnancy and childbirth? In prison, you don't get to choose your provider - not being able to choose who attends your birth is a big deal. Up until recently, in the prison we work in, there was only a male doctor available for labor and delivery. But for many women in prison - a huge number of whom have experienced sexual and domestic violence - having a male provider between your legs is not exactly ideal. Another issue is lack of informed consent - the lack of information and resources around having a healthy pregnancy for these women is huge. They just aren't given any information on pregnancy, their health, their bodies. The lack of access to proper nutrition during pregnancy is a big problem - the pregnant women in the prison we work with get "extra canteen" which means they get like an extra pack of Fritos. Also, the lack of access to health care in prison means that, in general, a health issue is not dealt with until it turns into a huge problem. It's a high-risk population anyway because, for the most part, these women lacked proper health care before coming to prison and being pregnant in prison doesn't change that. Also, there is a much higher rate of cesarean sections for women in prison as compared to women on the outside - mostly for the convenience of medical and prison staff."
The article mentions another organization, The Rebecca Project, which aims to end the practice of shackling pregnant inmates, particularly during labor and delivery, through the enactment of federal legislation.

Also check out this 1997 article by Sheila Kitzinger on the state of pregnant women and mothers in Great Britain.


islanddweller said...

i am a doula who would like to volunteer some time to these mama's. any idea which direction i should go in?

The Mommy Blawger said...

You might try contacting this organization:

Maybe other readers have ideas?