References

Abbott L. The Incarcerated Pregnancy: An Ethnographic Study of Perinatal Women in English Prisons. Doctor of Health Research thesis submitted to University of Hertfordshire. 2018;

Allen G. Early Intervention: The Next Steps.London: The Cabinet Office; 2011

Amnesty International. Iran 2017/2018. 2019. https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/iran/report-iran/ (accessed 11 June 2019)

Aveyard H. Doing a Literature Review in Health and Social Care, 3rd edn. Maidenhead: Open University Press; 2014

Beresford S. What About Me? The impact on children when mothers are involved in the criminal justice system.London: Prison Reform Trust; 2018

Birth Companions. Supporting mothers, empowering women. 2019. https://www.birthcompanions.org.uk/about-us (accessed on 11 June 2019)

Birthrights. Human rights in maternity care. 2017. http://www.birthrights.org.uk/library/factsheets/Human-Rights-in-Maternity-Care.pdf (accessed 19 June 2019)

Bowlby J. Attachment and loss volume 1: Attachment.Richmond: Hogarth Press and The Institute of Psychoanalysis; 1969

Chambers AN. Impact of forced separation policy on incarcerated postpartum mothers. Policy Polit Nurs Pract. 2009; 10:(3)204-211 https://doi.org/10.1177/1527154409351592

Cluett ER, Bluff R. Principles and Practice of Research in Midwifery, 2nd edn. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2006

Corston J. The Corston Report: The Need for a Distinct, Radically Different, Visibly-led, Strategic, Proportionate, Holistic, Women-centered, Integrated Approach.London: Home Office; 2007

Critical Appraisal Skills Programme. Qualitative Research Checklist. 2018. https://casp-uk.net/ (accessed 11 June 2019)

Edge D. Perinatal Healthcare in Prison: A Scoping Review of Policy and Provision.London: Department of Health; 2006

Epstein R. Mothers in prison: The sentencing of mothers and the rights of the child.Coventry: The Howard League for Penal Reform; 2014

RCM supports charity's new Birth Charter. 2016. https://www.rcm.org.uk/news-views-and-analysis/news/rcm-supports-charitys-new-birth-charter (accessed 5 May 2018)

Goshin LS, Byrne MW, Henninger AM. Recidivism after release from a prison nursery program. Public Health Nurs. 2014; 31:(2)109-117 https://doi.org/10.1111/phn.12072

Gov.uk. Prison life. 2019. https://www.justice.gov.uk/offenders/types-of-offender/women (accessed 11 June 2019)

Guttmacher Institute. State bans on abortion throughout pregnancy. 2019. https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/state-policies-later-abortions

Holland K, Rees C. Nursing: Evidence-Based Practice Skills.Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2010

Johnson K. Maternal-Infant Bonding: A Review of the Literature. Int J Childbirth Educ. 2013; 28:(3)17-22

Kennedy A, Marshall D, Parkinson D, Delap N, Abbott L Birth Charter for women in prisons in England and Wales.London: Birth Companions; 2016

Compendium of re-offending statistics and analysis.London: Ministry of Justice; 2011

Justice Data Lab Re-offending Analysis: Women's Centres throughout England.London: Ministry of Justice; 2015

Better Births: Improving Outcomes of Maternity Services in England.London: NHS England; 2016

North J. Getting It Right? Services for pregnant women, new mothers and babies in prison.Oxfordshire: Lankelly Chase; 2013

O'Keeffe C, Dixon L. Enhancing Care for Childbearing Women and Their Babies in Prison.Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University; 2015

UN Bangkok Rules on women offenders and prisoners, short guide.London: Penal Reform International; 2013

Petrie A, Sabin C. Medical Statistics at a Glance, 3rd edn. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons; 2013

Polgar S, Thomas SA. Introduction to Research in the Health Sciences E-Book, 5th edn. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone; 2008

Prisoners Advice Service. Mother and Baby Units (MBUs) self help toolkit. 2017. http://www.prisonersadvice.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Mother-and-Baby-Units-Self-Help-Toolkit.pdf (accessed 19 June 2019)

Prison Reform Trust. Transforming lives: reducing womens imprisonment. 2016. http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Women/WomensLeaflet2016.pdf (accessed 11 June 2019)

Prison Reform Trust. Why focus on reducing women's imprisonment?. 2017. http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Women/why%20women_final.pdf (accessed 11 June 2019)

Rahimipour Anaraki N, Boostani D. Mother–child interaction: a qualitative investigation of imprisoned mothers. Qual Quant. 2014; 48:(5)2447-2461 https://doi.org/10.1007/s11135-013-9900-y

Rees C. An Introduction to Research for Midwives, 3rd edn. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2011

Scottish Government. Evaluation of sixteen women's community justice services in Scotland. 2015. https://www2.gov.scot/resource/0048/00484422.pdf (accessed 19 June 2019)

Sikand M. Lost Spaces: Is the current procedure for women prisoners to gain a place in a prison Mother and Baby Unit fair and accessible?.London: The Griffins Society; 2015

Sleed M, Baradon T, Fonagy P. New Beginnings for mothers and babies in prison: A cluster randomized controlled trial. Attach Hum Dev. 2013; 15:(4)349-367 https://doi.org/10.1080/14616734.2013.782651

Sturge G. UK Prison Population Statistics.London: House of Commons; 2018

Mothers Behind Bars: A state-by-state report card and analysis of federal policies on conditions of confinement for pregnant and aprenting women and the effect on their children.Washington DC: National Women's Law Centre; 2010

The World Bank. Countries and Economies. 2018. https://data.worldbank.org/country (accessed 11 June 2019)

Underdown A, Barlow J. Policy issues in the early years.London: Sage Publications; 2012

United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules).New York (NY): UN; 2010

Ward H, Brown R, Westlake D. Safeguarding Babies and Very Young Children from Abuse and Neglect.London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers; 2012

Staying together: mothers and babies in prison

02 July 2019
12 min read
Volume 27 · Issue 7

Abstract

Background

Many women in prison are mothers and an increasing number are pregnant. These women face the harsh reality of potentially being separated from their babies or children, which can have detrimental effects on both the mother and the child.

Aims

To review the literature surrounding the impact of mothers and children staying together in a prison environment.

Method

The review focused on papers from the past 9 years and included mothers whose children resided with them in prison, and mothers who had been separated from their babies after giving birth in prison. Three articles were identified: two qualitative studies based on interviews with imprisoned mothers, and one quantitative study into re-offending rates of women who had been released from a prison nursery programme.

Findings

Keeping their babies and mother together in a prison environment resulted in a positive outcome, particularly for the mothers. However, when thinking about the welfare of the child, there need to be sufficient opportunities to allow for their physical, social and emotional development. The common themes that emerged during this literature review were: low re-offending rates, motherhood producing motivation for change, and the effect of staying together on maternal and child wellbeing.

Conclusions

This review highlighted the need for further studies, especially focusing on prisons in the UK.

The number of women imprisoned across the world is increasing. According to the World Female Imprisonment List, the number of female prisoners has increased worldwide by 53% since 2000 (Walmsley, 2017), with many of these women having dependent children (Epstein, 2014). This rise has been attributed to a change in sentencing, as many imprisoned women are on remand or serving short sentences for non-violent crimes (Prison Reform Trust, 2016). This therefore increases the possibility of childbirth during a prison sentence, with the risk of mother and baby being separated. This also affects mothers who already have young families, as evidence suggests that only 1 in 20 children with imprisoned mothers are cared for in the family home (Beresford, 2018). According to Birth Companions, a charity that works with women and babies in prison (Birth Companions, 2019), around 100 babies in England and Wales are born to women in prison every year (Kennedy et al, 2016). In the UK, women make up approximately 5% of the total prison population (Sturge, 2018), one of the highest rates of women in prison in western Europe (Prison Reform Trust, 2017).

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Midwifery and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for midwives. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to our clinical or professional articles

  • Unlimited access to the latest news, blogs and video content

  • Monthly email newsletter