Professional Doula Support
Alabama Prison Birth Project provides one-on-one, peer support to expectant mothers and birth-givers imprisoned in Alabama. By continuously nurturing them through their pregnancy and birthing time, modeling healthy relationships for them, validating their experience by reflecting back their feelings, and holding space around them as they welcome and separate from their newborns, we hope to encourage a continued connection between them and their babies. This connection is key to healthy infant outcomes, healthy infant development, and increased mental well-being and connection for the parent. Data have shown lower cesarean rates, lower risks of infants going to special care nursery, lower preterm birth rates, and higher breastfeeding rates when birth-givers are accompanied by a companion during pregnancy and in the birth room. Click here to watch a video explaining what a doula, or birth companion, is.
Group Education and Support
We lead weekly prenatal and postpartum support and parenting education groups. These 120-minute classes facilitated by APBP teach incarcerated pregnant people about bonding with their infant before and immediately after birth, lactation, early infant development, and parenting. The classes, in addition to increasing our participants' maternity knowledge and skills, also provide an essential forum for community-building and social support. Each participant receives a composition notebook for journaling, teaching handouts, coloring sheets, and a pregnancy and beyond curriculum and a resource book for incarcerated mothers. Both of the latter items are available for purchase on Lulu.com. APBP also stocks the prison library with pregnancy and parenting books and provides baby name books at each group meeting. Photo Credit: Elaine McMillion Sheldon
With the help of food partners, we join clients together and serve a weekly nutritious meal. We have gained special permission from Tutwiler to bring in a nutrient dense spread containing fruits, vegetables, proteins, calcium, Omega-3's, folate, and iron—an important intervention in improving the health of the developing fetus and the birth-giver, both prenatally and during lactation. Photo Credit: Elaine McMillion Sheldon
New mothers inside Tutwiler, if they wish and are healthy, are able to express milk for their infants once they return to prison after giving birth. Their infants can benefit from the increased maternal connection to them as well as from the developmental, digestive, and immunological properties of the milk. Premature babies, who are more often born to incarcerated mothers, especially need human milk. It can mean the difference between life and death. We overnight the milk on dry ice to the infant's caregiver. With this option, our clients can provide a form of everyday care, even as someone else cares for the baby.