Birth Companions believes that practical and emotional support is particularly important for pregnant women and mothers seperated from small babies who are in prison, because they are one of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in Britain. Birth Companions visit Peterborough and Bronzefield prisons every week to offer support to pregnant women and new mothers as well as women who have recently separated from their babies.
In our weekly groups, we provide women with information about pregnancy and birthas well as early parenting issues. We also encourage women to consider their options during labour and help them to write birth plans which outline their specific needs and preferences. The group setting gives women the chance to discuss their feelings and concerns, we also offer one-to-one support when needed
Women who have attended the pregnancy group and then had to separate from their babies often continue to attend the group post-separation for further support from Birth Companions and also from their peers. The Birth Companions Breastfeeding Supporter often works with separated mothers who choose to express and store their breastmilk so it can then be sent out to their babies in the community. Many women who are taken into custody are left with no choice but to leave their children behind and this can be a very distressing time for all those concerned. The Breastfeeding Supporter also visits women who were breastfeeding before coming to prison to offer them emotional and practical support.
Women tell us that the support they received from Birth Companions while in prison made a real difference to their experience of pregnancy, birth and parenting.