The Birth Charter has been developed in consultation with our service users and with guidance from the Royal College of Midwives and UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative. It is intended to help inform the government’s 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 birth partners to breastfeeding, family visits and counselling. Alongside the Birth Charter, Birth Companions is calling on the government to create a much-needed Prison Service Order to help the Prison Service provide consistent, humane care.
Naomi Delap, Director of Birth Companions, says: “Many pregnant women and new mothers in prison are incredibly vulnerable, yet despite several pieces of national and international legislation protecting their health and well-being, many do not get the care and support to which they are entitled. We have focused attention on the elements that have the biggest practical impact to ensure these women get the support they need, and are able to give their children the best possible start in life.”
Commenting, the Royal College of Midwives Chief Executive (RCM), Cathy Warwick says: “It doesn’t matter where mothers and babies are – they must all be given the highest standards of care to promote their health and wellbeing. The RCM is proud to support the Birth Charter, which outlines the rights and unique needs of pregnant women, mothers and babies who are in prison. The RCM fully supports the recommendations for government and the Prison Service, which if implemented in full, will make a massive difference to the quality of care women receive and help create a culture whereby all babies are given the best start in life.”
Programme Director of UNICEF UK’s Baby Friendly Initiative, Sue Ashmore, says: “To protect the rights and welfare of innocent babies born in prison, mothers must receive the same support with feeding and bonding as they would in the community. The Birth Charter gives a much-needed voice to pregnant women and new mothers in prison, helping to ensure that no baby is punished for being born in detention.”
The Birth Charter is supported by Women in Prison, Agenda, Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative and Clinks.