Prison is no place for women to give birth, says Royal College of Midwives
All women in prison or custody must have equal maternity care to those women on the outside. That’s the message from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) today as it responds a report from the Nuffield Trust.
The report ‘Locked out? Prisoners' use of hospital care’ has confirmed the RCMs concerns that many pregnant women in prison are giving birth in their cells and are not receiving safe or adequate or maternity care in prison.
Responding, Charlotte Wilson, Policy Advisor at the RCM said: “This is one of a series of reports which demonstrates that where pregnant women are imprisoned there is a risk to their life and that of their unborn child’s. Maternal and new-born healthcare should not be compromised by imprisonment and we know some pregnant women have reported receiving inadequate healthcare during their pregnancy while in detention which can put the life of their unborn baby at risk too.
“Pregnant women in prison are some of the most vulnerable in our society. What we need to see is women’s prisons working with their local NHS Trust’s and health boards to facilitate specialist midwifery care for pregnant women in prison. We would also like to see custodial sentencing minimised for perinatal women wherever possible and it’s also crucial judges and magistrates fully understand the impact of any proposed sentence.”
Notes to Editors
In 2019 the RCM published a Position Statement on Women in the Criminal Justice System following the tragic death of a newborn after a woman gave birth alone in her cell at HMP Bronzefield.https://www.rcm.org.uk/media/3640/perinatal-women-in-the-criminal-justice-system_7.pdf.
Nuffield Trust Report - ‘Locked out? Prisoners' use of hospital care’
RCM responds to first 1000 Days of Life Report – January 2019
Birth Companions (2016). Birth Charter for women in prisons in England and Wales. https://www.birthcompanions.org.uk/Birth-Charter
To contact the RCM media relations team, call 020 7312 3456 or email [email protected]
The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources