Pregnancy and new motherhood in prison during the COVID-19 pandemic

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The prison population of women in England is approximately 3,600 (Ministry of Justice [MoJ], 2021a). Women in prison are reported to have many complex issues which include enduring childhood trauma, disadvantage, homelessness, domestic violence and resultant misuse of illegal substances (Corston, 2007; Baldwin, 2015). Approximately 66 per cent of women in prison are mothers (Beresford et al, 2020; Baldwin, 2021). It is estimated that there are approximately 600 pregnancies and 100 births per year (Kennedy et al, 2016; Abbott, 2018). Of the 12 women’s prisons in England and Wales six have Mother and Baby Units (MBU), with 64 MBU places available nationally (MoJ, 2021b). It is understood that around 50 per cent of babies will remain with their mothers and 50 per cent will be placed outside of prison with family or foster carers (Kennedy et al, 2016). The process of applying for an MBU place usually involves a range of multiagency assessments, culminating in an MBU ‘board’ where a mother attends to give evidence of why she should be guaranteed a place with her baby.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExperiences of Punishment, Abuse and Justice by Women and Families
EditorsBooth Natalie, Isla Masson, Lucy Baldwin
PublisherBristol University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781447363934
ISBN (Print)9781447363903
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2023


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