I am thankful they were around when I needed a friend and a helping hand.

News 
 


The Archers’ Helen Titchener gives birth in prison

Director of Birth Companions, Naomi Delap says:

“Helen Titchener gave birth to a baby boy in tonight’s (22nd May) episode of The Archers, mirroring the experience of 100 women prisoners who give birth in the UK each year.

“Birth can be a highly stressful experience and no female prisoner should have to go through it without the emotional and practical support often taken for granted in the community. Not every woman is able to have a family member with them during labour as Helen did, so that’s why we provide that support where possible.

“On Thursday this week (26 May) we will be publishing a new set of recommendations in the form of the Birth Charter to help inform the Government’s ongoing review of the treatment of these vulnerable women and their babies, and to improve current practice across the Prison Service, on aspects ranging from antenatal care and birthing partners to breastfeeding, family visits and counselling.” 

Mariam, who gave birth while serving a three year sentence, says:

“I had about 10 people see me half naked while I was giving birth and nursing my baby – people I didn’t know. I was breastfeeding, and had men guarding me. To start with I asked them to leave the room every time I did a feed, but then I felt awkward and ashamed about asking them, they seemed almost annoyed.”

The charity Birth Companions has been consulted by The Archers producers to ensure the accuracy of the Helen Titchener storyline.

To arrange interviews with Birth Companions spokespeople and service users, please contact: naomi@birthcompanions.org.uk



Birth Companions consults on The Archers storyline

Director of Birth Companions, Naomi Delap says:

“Having pleaded not guilty and having her bail application turned down in tonight’s (5th May) episode of The Archers, it has now become clear that heavily pregnant Helen Titchener will give birth in custody. 

“600 pregnant women spend time in prison in England and Wales and 100 babies are born to mothers in custody each year. Helen’s experiences bring the vulnerabilities of many of these women into sharp focus.  Pregnant women in prison have the right to the same standard of antenatal care as women in the community. However, despite several pieces of national and international legislation protecting their health and well-being, many do not get the basic care and support they are entitled to and need to ensure their babies get the best possible start in life.”

One woman supported by Birth Companions, who gave birth while serving a three-year sentence, says:

“I never got any information – no leaflets, nothing that said this is what happens when you’re about to have your baby, this is where you’ll go, this is what you can expect. I had to fight for everything – the extra pregnancy mattress I was entitled to, the extra bread at mealtimes.”

Birth Companions provides practical and emotional support to pregnant women and new mothers in prison, and has been consulted by the BBC in developing the current Archers storyline to ensure the accuracy of Helen Titchener’s experiences. The charity’s Director and specialist staff are excellently placed to offer comment and insight on what Helen is going through and the issues she may face as a pregnant woman and new mother within the prison system.

On 26 May Birth Companions is launching the Birth Charter, a comprehensive set of recommendations to help inform the Government’s ongoing review of the treatment of pregnant women and new mothers in prison, and improve current practice across the Prison Service, on aspects ranging from antenatal care and birthing partners to breastfeeding, family visits and counselling. 

Read our latest statement on the storyline developments here 



Closure of HMP Holloway

Birth Companions has been supporting pregnant women and new mothers in Holloway for almost 20 years, so news of the closure of the prison comes as a shock. Whilst we welcome changes that will result in women being held in better conditions, we do have concerns about the impact of women being held further from their families. We’ll be looking at how this will affect the services we run and will make every effort to ensure that women are still able to access our support going forward, either through our existing services in Bronzefield and Peterborough prison or through developing new services where they are needed



My Brilliant Moment

Watch Viv Grey one of our Trustees talk about her 'Birlliant Moment' being part of the start of Birth Companions here