In the UK, numbers of pregnant women are not routinely collated, but estimations suggest that 6-7% of the female prison population are at varying stages of pregnancy and approximately 100 babies are born to incarcerated women each year. There are no exact data of the numbers of newborn babies removed from their mother at or soon after birth. There are six Mother and Baby Units (MBU) in the 12 women’s UK prisons in the UK, currently, all underutilised. Accounts from qualitative research of women being mandatorily separated from their new-born babies demonstrate a deep sense of loss, yet surprisingly little research has examined experiences of the process of separating mothers from their babies. The study is the first project to link the professions of social work, Health Visiting, midwifery and criminal justice staff, with the experiences of women who have been in prison at the heart of the research.
Recommendations arising from this research has the potential to build upon and further improve understanding of women’s experiences and the procedures involved in removal of new-borns from their imprisoned mothers. The project will benefit academic and health research, notably the sociology of health and illness, criminology, midwifery, health visiting and social work.