In 2001, Janice Banther began Birth Behind Bars. This program started by teaching childbirth classes to pregnant inmates. Within one year, she and the doulas that work with her, were allowed to be doulas for the female inmates when they went to the hospital to give birth.
Janice shares the story of one of the doulas in her program . . .
Sydnie Arnold is one of our educators and birth doulas with Birth Behind Bars. She was very excited to be able to teach the HUG program to the pregnant inmates at Pasco County Jail, Florida.
The six pregnant inmates present for this first HUG class seem really fascinated by the information. Those attending who already had a child are especially eager learners. The women are particularly interested in infant crying. Some mothers with older children remember that their newborns initially ate and peacefully went back to sleep. However, by two weeks old it surprised these mothers that those same babies were more fussy and hard to settle down. The HUG information helps them see this behavior as normal and gives these mothers tips to help calm their new baby.
The pregnant women are also interested in information about babies (especially those born prematurely) and SOSs (Signs of Over-Stimulation). After some discussion about SOSs, we recognize that some adults "Space Out", "Switch Off" and "Shut Down" when they are over stimulated or bored just like babies do!
These inmates express their wish that The HUG information had been available to them before the birth of their other children. And, our doulas couldn't help but wonder if this information might have been one small step out of the cycle of neglect and abuse for these mothers. Taking The HUG to jail seems helpful to these inmates and is treasured by those who do the incredible work of Birth Behind Bars.
© HUG Your Baby 2012