Accessing the inaccessible: What is the experience of being pregnant in a British prison?

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


To answer my research question I needed a way to access the prison system. From the outset, barriers seemed impenetrable to a setting where I was unfamiliar. I slowly built up a network of contacts who work with pregnant prisoners. I trained to become a “Birth Companion” providing antenatal, birth and postnatal support to women in prison. Through travelling, meeting key gatekeepers and hard work I have gone from a blank page to supporting a number of pregnant women and young mothers, in a variety of ways, in 2 English prisons. This presentation will focus on the skills and attributes a researcher requires to reach the unreachable and gain access to somewhere wholly unfamiliar.
The overall aim of my research is to understand women’s experiences of being pregnant in prison. There is very little qualitative research undertaken in this area and institutional ethnography is the methodology that will be used. The environment is central to the research and in depth interviews with women and staff will help to answer my research question. Reflexivity of the setting will inform the experience. Observation of the prison as a society for women will give meaning to the sociology of the environment. Careful ethical consideration is required due to working with vulnerable women as well as issues around coercion, consent and safety of self physically and emotionally. Previous studies have looked at physical outcomes, my study will illuminate women’s' voices. This research will inform policy and professional organisational planning for delivery of care for pregnant women in prison.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2015
EventHuman Reproduction Study Group Annual Conf - Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
Duration: 23 Jul 2015 → …


ConferenceHuman Reproduction Study Group Annual Conf
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityMilton Keynes
Period23/07/15 → …


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