St Albans & District Soroptimists and guests had an excellent evening where they learnt about what it’s like to be pregnant in prison. Both speakers were subject matter experts, and were keen to tell us about the Birth Charter for women in prisons in England and Wales being launched on May 26th www.birthcompanions.org.uk/Birth-Charter – there is a link on the page to get on the mailing list to receive the document. Pregnant Mothers often feel dehumanised, many already have mental health issues and the way they are treated through pregnancy, birth and postnatally can lead to worsening mental and physical wellbeing.
Our speakers (pictured right) were Laura Abbott, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery, University of Herts who shared her research which provides a vivid picture of life for pregnant women in prison and Naomi Delap, Director of the Charity, Birth Companions www.birthcompanions.org.uk who explained how their volunteers seek to alleviate some of the challenges, including attending and supporting women prisoners during labour. Most mothers who give birth in prison have very negative experiences, but when they have a birth companion this changes to a positive view. Birth Companions was started in 1996, it is a small charity and provides support to 3 women’s prisons.
Of the approximately 4000 women in prison at any time in the UK, about 6% will be pregnant, many have been victims themselves and all of their children are innocent victims too. Some of this information is also included in a report produced on Reducing Women’s Imprisonment by UK Soroptimists with the Prison Reform Trust: www.sigbi.org/ukpac/our-work/reducing-womens-imprisonment/transforming-lives-reducing-womens-imprisonment/
For more detailed information about the evening please download the meeting notes by clicking the link here: Pregnancy in Prison 23 May Meeting Notes Web
This event was part of the May Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland “Ask me why I’m a Soroptimist” campaign #WhySoroptimist – Soroptimists are not afraid to tackle difficult and unpopular issues. See below – just a few of the Members of the Club sporting their promotional T Shirts (l to r Jane Slatter, Janet Tansley, Denise Powell, Pamela Rochford, Liz Tillett, Jennie Redford and Janet Audley-Charles).