University of Hertfordshire

Helping pregnant women in prison

Research conducted by Dr Laura Abbott at the University of Hertfordshire has highlighted significant risks to the safety and wellbeing of pregnant mothers and their babies in UK prisons. She discovered that women are giving birth in prison cells without access to proper midwifery and maternity care. 

Dr Abbott, a specialist midwife and senior lecturer at the university, helped to write the 2016 Birth Charter, which provides guidance about the treatment of pregnant women in prison. Laura has also made clear recommendations to the Ministry of Justice, the prison inspectorate and to healthcare services to improve maternity provision for pregnant prisoners. In March 2019 she met with leaders at NHS England to agree steps to move further towards policy change and implementing mandated guidance.

Laura talks internationally about her research to organisations, including delivering a keynote speech at the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative Annual Conference.

Further reading