ABSTRACT

Women in prison are a particularly vulnerable group. Throughout history women have been seen as second-class citizens and subservient, attending to the will and wishes of men (Law Library 2015). As recently as 1995 women were still chained when in labour, though thankfully this practice no longer continues in the United Kingdom. The reasons why women go to prison will be examined, including some cases where pregnancy and childbirth have been criminalised in America. Women in prison who are pregnant are particularly vulnerable and must face the possibility of being separated from their baby if there is no place at a mother-and-baby unit (MBU) or they have been assessed as unfit for a place. Experiences from visiting an MBU will be included in the discussion alongside the rules and regulations surrounding suitability for a place. The discussion will include the role of Birth Companions, a group that was set up in 1996 (Marshall, 2010) to provide doula support for pregnant women. The role of the midwife in supporting and providing equitable care under difficult circumstances is included.