Pregnant women in prison are being left to give birth without a midwife, according to a report from the University of Hertfordshire.
The research, conducted by Specialist Midwife and Senior Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire Dr Laura Abbott, looks into the conditions of pregnant prisoners in England.
The report highlights concerns for the welfare of pregnant women in prison and their babies after it was found women were giving birth without a midwife present.
The number of childbirths in prison is unknown because the Ministry of Justice and the NHS do not collect this data.
One woman called Layla was interviewed by Dr Abbott about her experiences of giving birth in prison.
Speaking about the interview, Dr Laura Abbott told The Guardian: “As a midwife, I felt really shocked at what I was hearing. She got upset- she hadn’t shared her story before.
“It was a risky birth, when she was telling me her story, there were red flags for me as a midwife. She was in premature labour – there was another four weeks of pregnancy to go – and the baby was in the breech position.”
According to the report, Dr Abbott said that she interviewed 10 members of staff and 8 claimed they had experienced births in prison or knew about them.
Three prisons participated in the research, however they have not been named to protect women’s identities.
Two of the prisons Dr Abbott visited had no specialist or training in place for emergency births, with the third prison having trained staff but only in the mother and baby unit.
An overview of the report ‘What is the experience of being a pregnant woman in prison? Findings of an ethnographic study’ can be found here.
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