Pregnant women are not receiving proper treatment while incarcerated. We need to start doing better for women and their children.
Recently we shared a YouTube video of a woman explaining her experience being pregnant while incarcerated. She explained that she deserved to be in prison and she deserved the sentence she got, but she also said that the service and help she got while being incarcerated and being pregnant was terrible and embarrassing. The YouTuber shared about how she wasn't given any prenatal vitamins. She said that she was taken to a community free clinic and forced to wear her shackles while in the waiting room. People would whisper, stare and even take pictures of her while she waited. When she went into labor she was forced to sit in a wheelchair for three hours by herself while she was bleeding and feeling contractions.
A recent study has revealed that the popular Youtube star's experience was actually very normal! The study revealed that most pregnant women are not receiving proper care while in prison. Many of the women were expected to deliver their child by themselves in their cells. One woman came forward and said that she was expected to deliver her child in a cot by herself. The guard gave her an absorbant pad to place under her while she delivered her child. Once the baby was in her arms they called a nurse who then called an ambulance. Another woman shared that at her priosn many of the pregnant women were sent to solitary confinement when it came time to deliver.
Up until 2018, incarcerated women were forced to wear shackles while in labor. Women were chained to the bed during contractions and even while trying to push out their child. They were even forced to have their shackles when holding their baby after the delivery. As reported by the Prison Policy Initiative, the prison system is still mainly structured for men and there aren't a lot of procedures set in place for women and their unique needs such as hygiene, pregnancy, and menopause.
Jails and prisons need to start creating better procedures and processes to help pregnant women through their journey. They should be given adequate medical care throughout their entire pregnancy and they should be also given the opportunity to receive mental support as well as how to deal with the emotional issues through pregnancy and through the post-partum period. We need to be doing better for our women and their babies.