Skip to main content

The Benefits of Doula Support for Women Who Are Pregnant in Prison and Their Newborns

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Psychology book series (ACFPP)

Abstract

This study describes the characteristics and perinatal outcomes of 67 women who were pregnant in Minnesota’s only state prison for women and who received one-on-one doula support during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. Participants reported on their demographic and incarceration-related characteristics; history of physical and mental health; and satisfaction with the program and time with their baby. Doulas recorded frequency and type of contact with women, labor and birth outcomes, and their perceptions of the time women spent with their babies. In addition, women provided open-ended responses about time spent with their babies. Program participants were disproportionately women of color, had limited educational attainment, and experienced high rates of physical and mental health problems. Despite these risks, they had healthy newborns in terms of gestational age and birthweight, and a majority were delivered vaginally. Although women were generally satisfied with the time spent with their babies, open-ended responses indicated a desire for more time with their newborns, as well as the emotional pain of being separated from them. Results indicate that doula care is an innovative intervention in this carceral context and has the potential to benefit the health of women in prison and their newborns.

Keywords

  • Doula support
  • Health disparities
  • Incarceration
  • Labor support
  • Mothers prison
  • Vulnerable populations

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-67599-8_3
  • Chapter length: 16 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   54.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-67599-8
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   69.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Notes

  1. 1.

    The reason for this missingness is unknown; however, some participants may have been reluctant to share information about their mental health history given the sensitivity of these questions.

References

  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2016). Safe prevention of the primary cesarean delivery. Washington, DC: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Retrieved from https://www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Obstetric-Care-Consensus-Series/Safe-Prevention-of-the-Primary-Cesarean-Delivery

    Google Scholar 

  • Ballen, L., & Fulcher, A. (2006). Nurses and doulas: Complementary roles to provide optimal maternity care. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 35(2), 304–311.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bard, E., Knight, M., & Plugge, E. (2016). Perinatal health care services for imprisoned pregnant women and associated outcomes: A systematic review. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 16(1), 285. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-016-1080-z

    CrossRef  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Barkauskas, V. (2002). Health outcomes of incarcerated pregnant women and their infants in a community-based program. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 47(5), 371–379. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1526-9523(02)00279-9

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Barkauskas, V. H., Low, L. K., & Pimlott, S. (2002). Health outcomes of incarcerated pregnant women and their infants in a community-based program. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 47(5), 371–379.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bell, J. F., Zimmerman, F. J., Huebner, C. E., Cawthon, M. L., Ward, D. H., & Schroeder, C. A. (2004). Perinatal health service use by women released from jail. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 15(3), 426–438. https://doi.org/10.1353/hpu.2004.0035

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bohren, M. A., Hofmeyr, G. J., Sakala, C., Fukuzawa, R. K., & Cuthbert, A. (2017). Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 7.

    Google Scholar 

  • Buchanan, C. (2012). Pregnant behind bars: Examining the California prison system through a reproductive justice framework. Policy Matters, 9(2), 20–27.

    Google Scholar 

  • Carson, E. A. (2018). Prisoners in 2016. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p16.pdf

    Google Scholar 

  • Chambers, A. N. (2009). Impact of forced separation policy on incarcerated postpartum mothers. Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice, 10(3), 204–211.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Clarke, J. G., Hebert, M. R., Rosengard, C., Rose, J. S., DaSilva, K. M., & Stein, M. D. (2006). Reproductive health care and family planning needs among incarcerated women. American Journal of Public Health, 96(5), 834–839. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2004.060236

    CrossRef  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • #Cut50. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.cut50.org/.

  • Dallaire, D., & Shlafer, R. (2017). Programs for currently and formerly incarcerated mothers. In C. Wildeman, A. R. Haskins, & J. Poehlmann-Tynan (Eds.), When parents are incarcerated: Interdisciplinary research and interventions to support children. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Google Scholar 

  • DeHart, D. D. (2008). Pathways to prison: Impact of victimization in the lives of incarcerated women. Violence Against Women, 14(12), 1362–1381. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801208327018

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Deneux-Tharaux, C., Carmona, E., Bouvier-Colle, M.-H., & Bréart, G. (2006). Postpartum maternal mortality and cesarean delivery. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 108(3, Part 1), 541–548. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.AOG.0000233154.62729.24

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Doula Organization of North America. (2017). What is a doula? Retrieved from https://www.dona.org/what-is-a-doula/

  • Ferszt, G. G., & Clarke, J. G. (2012). Health care of pregnant women in U.S. state prisons. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 23(2), 557–569. https://doi.org/10.1353/hpu.2012.0048

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Graneheim, U. H., & Lundman, B. (2004). Qualitative content analysis in nursing research: Concepts, procedures and measures to achieve trustworthiness. Nurse Education Today, 24(2), 105–112.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hodnett, E. D., Gates, S., Hofmeyr, G. J., & Sakala, C. (2012). Continuous support for women during childbirth. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 10(3), CD003766. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub4

  • Hotelling, B. A. (2008). Perinatal needs of pregnant, incarcerated women. The Journal of Perinatal Education, 17(2), 37–44. https://doi.org/10.1624/105812408X298372

    CrossRef  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Hsieh, H. F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15(9), 1277–1288.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hutchinson, K., Moore, G., Propper, C., & Mariaskin, A. (2008). Incarcerated women’s psychological functioning during pregnancy. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 32, 440–453.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Inoue, D. (2003). Models of excellence 1999–2002: Innovative programs and services in America’s Public Hospitals and Health Systems. Washington, DC: National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems.

    Google Scholar 

  • Knight, M., & Plugge, E. (2005). Risk factors for adverse perinatal outcomes in imprisoned pregnant women: A systematic review. BMC Public Health, 5, 111. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-5-111

    CrossRef  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Kyei-Aboagye, K., Vragovic, O., & Chong, D. (2000). Birth outcome in incarcerated, high-risk pregnant women. Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey, 55(11), 682–684.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Loper, A. B., Novero, C., & Dallaire, D. (2019). Parenting programs for incarcerated fathers and mothers: Current research and new directions. In J. M. Eddy & J. Poehlmann-Tynan (Eds.), Handbook on children with incarcerated parents: Research, policy, and practice (2nd ed., pp. 183–203). Cham: Springer.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Martin, J. A., Hamilton, B. E., Osterman, M. J. K., & Discoll, A. K. (2018). Births: Final data for 2016. National Vital Statistics Reports, 67(1), 55. Hyattsville, MD. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_01.pdf

    Google Scholar 

  • Martin, S. L., Rieger, R. H., Kupper, L. L., Meyer, R. E., & Qaquish, B. F. (1997). The effect of incarceration during pregnancy on birth outcomes. Public Health Reports, 112(4), 340–346.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Maruschak, L. (2008). Medical problems of prisoners. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/html/mpp/tables/mppt10.cfm

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Maruschak, L., Glaze, L., & Mumola, C. J. (2010). Incarcerated parents and their children: Findings from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. In J. M. Eddy & J. Poehlmann (Eds.), Children of incarcerated parents: A handbook for researchers and practitioners (pp. 33–51). Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mertens, D. J. (2001). Pregnancy outcomes of inmates in a large county jail setting. Public Health Nursing, 18(1), 45–53.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Petitti, D. (1985). Maternal mortality and morbidity in cesarean section. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 28(4), 763–769.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sandelowski, M. (1995). Qualitative analysis: What it is and how to begin. Research in Nursing and Health, 18(4), 371–375.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Schroeder, C. A., & Bell, J. (2005). Labor support for incarcerated pregnant women: The Doula project. The Prison Journal, 85, 311–328.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Shlafer, R. J., Hellerstedt, W. L., Secor-Turner, M., Gerrity, E., & Baker, R. (2015). Doulas’ perspectives about providing support to incarcerated women: A feasibility study. Public Health Nursing, 32(4), 316–326.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Siefert, K., & Pimlott, S. (2001). Improving pregnancy outcome during imprisonment: A model residential care program. Social Work, 46(2), 125–134.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Stauber, M., Weingart, B., & Koubenec, J. (1984). Pregnancy, labor, and the puerperium in women prisoners. Geburtshilfe und Frauenheilkunde, 44(11), 731–737.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sufrin, C. (2017). Jailcare: Finding the safety net for women behind bars. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sufrin, C., Beal, L., Clarke, J., Jones, R., & Mosher, W. D. (2019). Pregnancy outcomes in US prisons, 2016–2017. American Journal of Public Health, 109(5). https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2019.305006

  • Terk, J., Martens, M., & Willamson, M. (1993). Pregnancy outcomes of incarcerated women. Journal of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, 2(5), 246–250.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Wilper, A., Woolhandler, S., & Boyd, J. (2009). Health status and access to care for inmates is substandard across the country. JCOM, 16(3), 106–107.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rebecca Shlafer .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Shlafer, R., Davis, L., Hindt, L., Pendleton, V. (2021). The Benefits of Doula Support for Women Who Are Pregnant in Prison and Their Newborns. In: Poehlmann-Tynan, J., Dallaire, D. (eds) Children with Incarcerated Mothers. SpringerBriefs in Psychology(). Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-67599-8_3

Download citation