The pregnant woman’s emotional journey through the prison system
Little is known about the experience of being a pregnant woman in prison. In the UK there are approximately 4000 women in prison at any one time and between 6 and 7% are estimated to be pregnant (Ministry of Justice, 2015). Pregnancy is an emotional event in a woman’s life and the problems associated with this vulnerable population is compounded within a total institution of incarceration. An interpretive (qualitative) framework is using two techniques with the aim of accessing the conditions under which women are journeying through their pregnancy. A pregnant woman may be particularly vulnerable within the prison estate. I have spent the last 3 years training as a birth companion, supporting women in prison at all stages of pregnancy, birth and postnatally, whether with their babies or being separated. Working as a volunteer has meant that continuity of care has been given, albeit, in a Birth Companion role rather than as a midwife. My qualitative doctoral research is looking at the experience of the pregnant woman in prison and has an ethnographic design. A variety of emotions from despair and hopelessness to acceptance and resilience are emerging from early data analysis from interviewing women. This presentation will illuminate some of these experiences and my own reflections of the complexities of researching and working with pregnant women in prison.