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Use of doulas and detention of immigrant pregnant women on agenda at RCM conference

27 October, 2017

Use of doulas and detention of immigrant pregnant women on agenda at RCM conference

The NHS should not employ doulas and they should be directly commissioned by women, says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) in a new position statement on doulas published today.

The detention of immigrant pregnant women is also covered in an updated position statement, Detention of pregnant women. In it the RCM repeats its call for an end to the practice. The statements come as the RCM holds its annual conference in Manchester on 31st October and 1st November 2017.

Doulas support a woman and her family during and after pregnancy. The support is tailored to the woman and may be emotional, physical, practical or social. In its doulas statement the RCM says that it supports a woman’s choice to use doulas. But it also stresses that doulas must not provide clinical care at any time. It goes on to say that doulas should never be used as substitutes for midwives or maternity support workers or to compensate for staffing shortages.

In its updated statement on pregnant women detained for immigration purposes the RCM repeats its call for an end to the practice. It says that the detention can be harmful to women and babies.*  

Many of these women are ‘uniquely vulnerable’ and they and their babies may have serious healthcare needs. Many will have suffered traumatic

Experiences, been victims of sexual violence or human trafficking, and may have significant and complex physical health and psychological problems.

The recent legislative changes to detention which limit it to 72 hours are welcome. But, this does not eliminate the risks to wo--+-men and babies from the practice. The RCM along with many other organisations supports an end to detention of pregnant women for good.

In its statement the RCM says that all pregnant women, regardless of their immigration status, must receive maternity care in line with their needs, respecting their autonomy and their right to make choices about their care.


To read the positions statements on Doulas and Detention of Pregnant Women visit https://www.rcm.org.uk/position-statements.

For more information on the RCM conference visit https://www.rcm.org.uk/rcm-annual-conference-2017.

To contact the RCM Press Office call 020 7312 3456, or email pressofficer@rcm.org.uk.




Notes to editors

*See The Migration Observatory. Immigration Detention in the UK. University of Oxford, May 2017. http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/immigration-detention-in-the-uk/

2 Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons A report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw. Cm 9186. January

2016 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/490782/52532_Shaw_Review_Accessible.

pdf and the Report of the Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom. A Joint Inquiry by the All Party

Parliamentary Group on Refugees & the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration. March 2015 https://detentioninquiry.files/wordpress.com/2015/03/immigration-detention-inquiry-report.pdf

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. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/

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