CDCR Inmate Pregnant In Prison During Labor
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Why Are There So Many Pregnant Women in US Prisons Today?

One in every four incarcerated women is either pregnant or has delivered a baby during the previous year? These women make up 25% of the total population of women in US prisons.

CDCR Inmate Pregnant In Prison During Labor
CDCR Inmate Pregnant In Prison During Labor : : Mark Allen Johnson Photography/

Giving birth is a painful experience. Giving birth in prison is even more complicated. Inmates who give birth in prisons are guarded by two correctional officers. They have no loved ones by their sides. 

The number of incarcerated women has risen over the years in the US. In 1980, the number of women in prison was 13,000. Today, our correctional facilities hold over 250,000 incarcerated women.

Many of these women inmates enter the prison system pregnant.

Bonding During Pregnancy in Prisons

There has been a lot of misinformation given over the years about bonding and attachment between a mother and her baby. How can an inmate truly love and nurture her baby during pregnancy knowing at the end of the day, it’s going to be taken away?

That means, many newborns born in prison lack the normal bonds that exist between babies and mothers

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So, how is it to be pregnant behind bars?

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Why Are So There So May Pregnant Women Behind Bars?

Being pregnant within prison walls is like being in a hostile and foreign land. Many prisons don’t treat women as mothers and don’t accommodate pregnancies.

This causes many prisoners to emotionally shut out the pregnancy experience.

Judges have used prison as a tool for stopping pregnant mothers from abusing drugs during pregnancy. This at times works. For many others, it doesn’t.

Many pregnant inmates indulge in drug and substance abuse. Just like any other expectant woman, pregnant incarcerated women should also take care of the unborn babies by:

  • Eating healthy
  • Sleeping well
  • Exercising often
  • Loving their unborn babies
  • Talking to their unborn babies

However, inmates still have access to illegal substances and drugs in prison. Chemical abuse in prison during pregnancy is very common.

But is putting pregnant women in prison the key to healthy pregnancies? Wouldn’t drug rehab programs make more sense?

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Pregnant Behind Bars: Giving Birth in Prison

Many prisons are usually designated as “no touch” facilities. Pregnant inmates give birth in the presence of two correctional officers. Although one must be female, it’s still not a personalized experience.

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Prison officials don’t allow loved ones when a prisoner is giving birth. Today, 20 states still allow women to be shackled during labor and childbirth

Birth-giving methods and techniques such as the cesarean and induction methods are the most common with delivering inmates. A planned birth ensures the security and the safety of the correctional facilities. 

On the other hand, a planned birth increases the maternal mortality rate in prisons as well.

Within three days after the inmate has given birth, the baby is taken from her. The baby is placed in foster care or given to an inmate’s family member. Prison officials then take the mother back to prison. 

It’s up to her family to bring the baby to visit her in prison. That’s the only bonding they will have until the mother’s release.

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Abigael Shem
Abigael Shem has eight years of experience in academic, content, research and creative writing, editing and proofreading. Developing any type of content is now an easy task for her. When she's not writing, she enjoys singing, dancing, hiking, traveling and sports, especially football and basketball. Abigael currently writes news for prison loved ones on Prison Rideshare Network.