Have you ever been pregnant? Have you ever given birth? For those of you who have you may connect to my sensibilities a little closer. But, for those of you who haven’t – male OR female – just for a moment try to imagine:

You have been carrying a child inside of you for roughly 9 months – give or take some days. You’ve changed your eating habits in an effort to be healthy for this child. You’ve felt this child kick and move, you’ve heard their heartbeat, you’ve seen their image…..

Now, let’s imagine that you’ve done something naughty; something that lands you in prison. Maybe you wrote a boatload of bad checks, maybe you shoplifted for the 3rd time, maybe you drove the getaway car when your boyfriend held up a bank, maybe you killed your abusive husband…. Do you deserve to serve time? Yes, of course. We all must be held accountable for our actions. Do I think some acts are more justified than others…yes I do…but that’s for another post.

So…you’re very pregnant and incarcerated. You give up some personal liberties just by virtue of being naughty. That’s normal and expected.

BUT – Do you give up the right to experience a humane childbirth? I think not.

Many studies have been conducted on the safety of the mother and baby during the birthing process. It should come as no great surprise that a woman’s body will naturally move into positions that are conducive to successful birthing with minimal  difficulties. (I say this a bit tongue-in-cheek because birthing is difficult by definition). In addition to the aforementioned studies, many studies have been done on the effect of mother/baby bonding or lack thereof initially following childbirth. It is crucial. Not only for the mother but for the baby as well. Feel free to look it up if you don’t believe me. It’s of utmost importance.

Shackling a woman to the birthing bed/table via ankle and/or wrist restraints is cruel and inhumane. Your range of motion is relinquished, restricting the ability of your body to adjust to birthing in a natural way. Your arms are restrained keeping you from creating leverage from which to push. You are unable to hold and swaddle your baby immediately following birth. All of the things doctors and psychologists and child behavior experts and decent human beings in general realize are absolutely necessary are stripped from incarcerated women.

The main argument seems to be that these women are a flight risk. REALLY?? For those of you who have given birth – can you imagine even harboring the thought that you would get up and flee while in the midst of pushing? Not to mention the fact that the birthing rooms are guarded by armed guards. But seriously – you can barely stand (if that is your preferred method of pushing), much less walk or possibly run. It would be impossible. The idea is preposterous. For those of you who are trying to imagine this scenario – you’ve seen movies – do you think it’s a reasonable concern?

I do not take offense at pregnant women being incarcerated. Sometimes we’re naughty. When we are, we get in trouble and we have to face the consequences. But, being naughty does not mean we should no longer be treated humanely. She’s not going anywhere. This practice is archaic and dangerous. Stop it.

Come on humanity….be humane.


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