Female prisoners in England left to give birth without midwife, report reveals

Sarah Boseley for The Guardian writes:

Women are giving birth in prison cells without access to proper medical care, according to a startling report shared with the Guardian.

Concerns for the welfare of pregnant women and their babies are raised by a detailed report into experiences in three prisons that highlights cases of women giving births in cells without a midwife present, including one where the baby was premature and born feet-first.

Delap says they have a number of concerns, one of which is that nobody knows how many pregnant women are in prison or how many give birth inside or in hospital. Their guess is that there are 600 pregnant women in prison and 100 give birth each year.

Urgent action is needed, say Birth Companions. Pregnant women should have 24-hour telephone access to a midwife or labour ward. Prison staff, including nurses, should not make the decision as to whether a woman is in labour. Pregnant women locked in at night who call for help should be prioritised. Staff should be trained in emergency deliveries and at least one person with such training should be on the premises at night. And all stillbirths – after 24 weeks – should be reported as deaths in custody to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.