Pregnant Prisoners

 

Pregnant prisoners housed with the Michigan Department of Corrections have access to a variety of pre- and post- natal care regardless of custody level or security classification. Supports in place for this special population are outlined in WHV-OP-03.04.100B Pregnant & Postpartum Prisoners and include counseling, Lamaze and parenting classes, and childcare options.

Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility employs the services of an obstetrician who examines and cares for pregnant prisoners in accordance with community standards and is available on call for consultation by qualified health care professionals when he or she is off-site. An MDOC dietician is consulted to address the pregnant prisoner’s caloric and nutritional needs and the facility dentist performs a dental examination and provides education about oral changes during pregnancy. Pregnant prisoners are also reissued clothing and shoes as necessary due to any physical changes during pregnancy.

Pregnant prisoners are housed together in the same unit, nearest the facility health care clinic, and receive social work services through the facility’s pregnant prisoner coordinator who develops an individual program plan with an assigned pregnancy counselor and/or adoption worker. This plan provides comprehensive services including pregnancy counseling and information and, as appropriate, assistance concerning power of attorney, kinship care or a relative placement, guardianship, open adoption, semi-open adoption, closed adoption and/or foster care placement.

The facility coordinates Lamaze classes for interested pregnant prisoners and offers birth education and labor coach support. Pregnant prisoners may have a family support person present during labor and delivery and for up to two hours postpartum. The individual must be an immediate family member, legal guardian, spouse, or domestic partner, and must be an approved visitor who is listed on the prisoner’s visiting list. Pregnant prisoners may also request the services of a labor coach or doula. Once the request has been processed, the assigned doula will meet with the prisoner twice prior to delivery as time allows. The doula is then contacted when the prisoner is in active labor and will remain with the prisoner throughout their labor and delivery and up to three hours post-delivery. The doula also follows up with the prisoner at the facility during the postpartum period.

Prisoners who have just given birth are given the option to participate in clamping and cutting the cord at time of delivery under the supervision of hospital staff if the prisoner is interested in doing so, the newborn is stable, and contact is authorized. In most cases, the prisoner can visit with the newborn in her hospital room as desired and care for the newborn. Exceptions include if there is a medical condition present where the prisoner is too sick to take care of the baby or the baby’s medical condition requires he/she be admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where visits require special approval.

Transportation of pregnant prisoners is done in accordance with the MDOC Transportation Manual. The Transportation Sergeant assigns at least one female Transporting Correctional Officer when pregnant prisoners are transported outside of the facility, and Shift Command assures a female Corrections Officer is posted immediately inside the labor and delivery room at the hospital. Restraints are NOT used on pregnant prisoners during active labor. During transportation, handcuffs are the only restraint that are used on a prisoner known to be pregnant and restraints are NOT used on the offender during active labor, delivery, immediately following birth, and up to discharge from the hospital.

The prisoner is not moved from the pregnant/postpartum prisoner unit until they are medically cleared 6-8 weeks following childbirth. All staff are required to make an immediate referral for mental health services if postpartum depression is suspected. If the prisoner has a verified fixed parole/release date within 45 days of delivering their baby and opts to breastfeed their newborn, a manual breast pump will be issued, and the prisoner will take the pump with her at the time of her release from incarceration. A prisoner with a verified fixed parole/release date within 45 days of delivering their baby may breastfeed in the visiting area during assigned visitation hours.