Prison pregnancies

Children born in U.K. prisons suffer severe health risks

In the wake of a report that found mothers and children face significant risks as a result of being imprisoned during pregnancy, campaigners, MPs, and midwives are asking the British government to clarify their policy regarding pregnant inmates. The report, issued by Birth Companions, an organization dedicated to helping pregnant women within the prison system, found that babies born in prison with their mothers are much more at risk for ADHD, autism, mental health problems, and lower birth weights.

At least 100 babies are born each year in England and Wales while their mothers serve prison sentences. Some mothers keep their baby in prison until they are 18 months old in a specialist Mother and Baby Unit. Others have their babies placed with a family member or foster home outside the prison. While pregnant, the report found, these women typically faced increased stress, dehydration, and malnutrition.

Disturbing anecdotes have also surfaced from women who say they were watched by male guards while they gave birth. “When I was there, every single mother had a caesarean section,” one woman told The Independent. “We all felt that it was because we were stressed and the officers were in the room all the time.”

“Prisons were designed with men in mind,” explained Naomi Delap, director of Birth Companions. “Women are a small population, pregnant women are an even smaller one within that and many of the institutions haven’t really addressed the issue and the impact of current policies.”

Read the full story at The Independent.


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