Pregnancy and New Motherhood in Prison

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This timely book addresses an overlooked area of criminal justice by focusing on the reality of pregnancy and new motherhood in prison. Based on the experiences of women in mother and baby units, it passionately argues the case for minimising harm, making key reading for criminology and midwifery students and researchers.

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Incorporating the authentic voices and real-life experiences of women, this ground-breaking book focuses on pregnancy and new motherhood in UK prisons. The book delves critically and poignantly into the criminal justice system’s response to pregnant and new mothers, shedding light on the tragedies of stillborn babies and the deaths of traumatised mothers in prison.

Based on lived realities, it passionately argues the case for enhancing the experiences of pregnant and new mothers involved with the criminal justice system. Aiming to catalyse policy and practice, the book is key reading for criminology and midwifery students and researchers as well as policy makers and practitioners.

Lucy Baldwin recently retired as an Associate professor at Durham University. She remains an associate research fellow, criminal justice researcher and consultant. Lucy has over 35 years’ experience working in and around social and criminal justice, being a qualified and experienced social worker and probation officer. Lucy’s research helped inform the Female Offender strategy, the Farmer Review for Women, and the Joint Human Rights Inquiry into Maternal Imprisonment and the Rights of the Child. Lucy currently works nationally and internally with criminal justice agencies and providers and has designed and delivered supportive programs and training for mothers and fathers in prison and staff. Lucy remains active and passionate in her pursuit of positive change, support, and reform for women affected by criminal justice.

Dr Laura Abbott is a highly accomplished researcher and midwifery practitioner specialising in the field of pregnancy and new motherhood in prison. Currently holding the position of Associate Professor in Research at The University of Hertfordshire, Laura is recognised as a Registered Midwife, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a Fellow of the Royal College of Midwives. Her innovative doctoral work, titled “The Incarcerated Pregnancy: An Ethnographic Study of Perinatal Women in English Prisons,” explored the experiences of pregnant women in prison, providing valuable insights into this underexplored area. Laura’s contributions extend beyond academia. She co-authored “The Birth Charter” for pregnant women in England and Wales, a significant publication by Birth Companions in May 2016. This publication highlights her dedication to advocating for the rights of pregnant women. Her expertise has also helped shape the operational policy of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Services regarding pregnancy, Mother and Baby Units (MBUs), and maternal separation in prison. Laura has also provided evidence at the parliamentary Joint Human Rights Committee, showcasing her influence in improving the care and support for incarcerated pregnant women and new mothers. Laura’s commitment to international collaboration and advocacy is evident through her co-founding of the Pregnancy in Prison Partnership International (PIPPI), where she collaborates with academics from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, the USA, and the UK. Additionally, she played a pivotal role in establishing the UK-wide Prison Midwives Support Group. Laura leads as the Principal Investigator for ‘The Lost Mothers Project’, a significant initiative in collaboration with Birth Companions and their Lived Experience Team, which is funded by the ESRC. The project focuses on examining the experiences of enforced separation from newborn babies, shedding light on the profound impact it has on both mothers within the criminal justice system and the perspectives of health, social, and prison professionals involved. Laura’s dedication to improving knowledge, policy, and support systems for pregnant women and new mothers in prison remains a driving force in her work and research endeavours.

Author/Editor details at time of book publication.