08There are so many emotions when it comes to being pregnant. It is a time of excitement, fear and a constant state of being uncomfortable. This is made slightly better only by being able to be in your own home, where you are most comfortable.
Can anyone imagine what it would be like to be pregnant while in prison for committing a crime? Surrounded by people you don't know and who are also criminals? This can not be the way anyone envisioned bringing their child into the world.
This is not a common occurrence, as less than 1% of female prisoners were pregnant as of 2013, but it does still happen.
Sometimes the best way to understand and empathize with a situation is by looking at a picture. A picture can speak a thousand words, so we are going to look at being pregnant in prison through photographs.
When women are expecting a child in prison, there are still resources available to them. There are usually childbirth classes and parenting classes to help them prepare for motherhood.
Even prisoners who are not expecting have classes available to them, but it is normally to help them receive their high school diploma to set them up to succeed when their sentence is over.
An environment is essential for a pregnant woman to help her feel comfortable and make sure she has a positive space to help the pregnancy.
Prison is obviously not an ideal environment to help nurture and grow a little baby, a baby that has committed no crime at all and is just alone for the ride.
There are a lot of people out there who rely a lot on their family and friends for support when they are pregnant. They look to them for advice and for comfort when they are having a hard time.
This may be the hardest part about being pregnant in prison. Other than the guards and other inmates, a pregnant woman is doing it on her own.
There are some prisons in the US who have programs that allow incarcerated women to keep their babies with them in jail. This is only available to women who have minor convictions and are considered good prisoners.
However, is this the right environment for a baby? One look at the baby's face on the right may tell us that they are feeling all the negativity in the air.
Then there are cases when mothers do not get to take their babies with them back to the prison. They go off and give birth and have to go back to prison without their baby.
All they have is a picture to remind them of the baby they just gave birth to. Even though they are criminals, every mother can only imagine how much that hurts.
It is so hard to get comfortable when you are pregnant. As your belly grows, it gets harder to fit into any clothes. Women on the outside have the luxury of wearing some great maternity clothes.
This is not the same for women who are pregnant. They don't have maternity clothes in prison, they have to wear the same outfits everyone else does.
While we are on the topic of comfort, it can be next to impossible to sleep when pregnant, and that is when you have a comfortable, king sized bed at home.
Such luxuries are not to be found in prison, and a pregnant woman may find herself sleeping on a hard slab with a thin mattress on top. This is sure to make the nights that much harder.
There are some out there that think that solitary confinement is one of the worst tortures in the world. That being forced to be by yourself, with no interaction with others, can drive a person crazy.
Pregnant women are still prisoners and may still have to deal with solitary confinement. Being alone while dealing with pregnancy hormones cannot be easy.
A lot of prisons will try and make everything a bit more homey feeling when they are dealing with women who are expecting a baby.
They understand that they are prisoners, but they also realize that they are human beings. Human beings who made a horrible mistake, and are now paying for what they did.
They are currently trying to stop having to shackle pregnant women, especially when they are in labor. When a normal prisoner has to go to the hospital or leave the prison, they are shackled for everyone's safety.
They want to stop shackling pregnant women who are in labor as it is unnatural, and a woman in the throes of labor is not much threat to anyone.
If pregnancy can play a role in your physical well-being, and prison can harm your emotional well-being, then the combination is not going to be well for anyone.
It is hard enough to be in prison (even though they committed a crime) without also having to be pregnant and worrying about what is going to happen with your baby when the time comes.
Like we said earlier, there are some programs in some US prisons that allow female prisoners to keep their babies with them in a special wing of the prison. However, some disagree with this.
They state that these women are prisoners and should not be allowed this privilege. Others see it as a great way for a woman to bond with her baby, and may actually lessen the chance of re-offending when released.
There are milestones when you are pregnant that a lot of women keep track of. They may take a picture every week to track their growth and remember. This won't happen in prison.
There will be no pictures, no belly casts and little done to remember the pregnancy once the baby is born.
Even though they are pregnant, they are still treated like a criminal, and that is because they are. They are still subject to the same treatment and tests that all other prisoners are.
They are only allotted so much to eat, so much outside time and the right to have visitors. No one is taking it easy on them just because they are pregnant.
This is probably one of the most heartbreaking pictures on this article. It shows a women prisoner who is saying goodbye to her little baby.
Even though these women have committed a crime, they are still human and in need of compassion and this must be one of the hardest times of their life.
References; projects.spcr.org, parents.com