HUMANITY IN CHILDBIRTH, BEHIND BARS, & BEYOND.


 

A moment: an expectant mother gets the news of her pregnancy from a nurse in Michigan's one women's prison.

And another moment: she walks through the slightly-open door of a classroom, her six-months-pregnant belly stretching her prison-issue navy shirt. A book of information, written with her in mind, has been placed on a chair cushion in the quiet classroom. Four other pregnant women, all in the same navy clothes, look up at her as she sits down.

And now see: she is in powerful labor in a dark and quiet room in a hospital. Her birth doula is at her side; the doula's hand rests on her low back as they talk quietly about the pressure of the just-finished contraction that brought her baby down and closer to birth. Their shared words are hushed and quiet, but what is clear is the message of the doula's presence in the room: you are not alone.

These moments tell the story of the Michigan Prison Doula Initiative (MPDI). 

 

 
 

OUR MISSION

The Michigan Prison Doula Initiative is a nonprofit organization that offers non-medical pregnancy, birth, and postpartum support to individuals affected by imprisonment. We believe that an informed, evidence-based birth experience is a basic human right. Our goal is to provide comprehensive education and professional doula services, followed by post-release resources to foster self-determination, agency, and stronger family relationships.

 
 

 
 
 

We welcome you here to learn more about MPDI's mission, ways you can support our mission through investments of time and donations, and our progress in our vision of supporting incarcerated birthing people in Michigan.


 

Before Birth

Prenatally, we support mothers by developing a birth plan, offering in-prison nutritional and childbirth education, promoting mental and physical health practices, and fostering positive co-mentoring relationships. During labor, we meet mothers at the hospital to provide birth coaching, massage, laboring tips, physical support, and emotional reassurance. Our goal is to bridge the expectations of birthing moms with professional medical staff in birth spaces. Each of our doulas is experienced, certified, and familiar with the hospital environment and medical staff present.

 
 
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After delivery, we remain connected with each mother to ensure the best transition from the hospital to prison re-entry. We offer breastfeeding education within the scope of prison policy directives, and continue doula services via two postpartum follow-up visits. Our collaboration with medical and prison staff seeks promote healthy birth outcomes for moms and their babies. We advocate for a humanizing birth experience that empowers mothers to foster stronger family relationships, and the ability to engage in personal growth throughout motherhood, regardless of incarceration status.

After Birth

 

 

Contact Us

If you would like to message the Michigan Prison Doula Initiative, please fill out the form below. A member of the nonprofit will respond to you soon.

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Share Your Story

If you would like to share your story with us, you can do so by following the steps below. All information you submit will be completely confidential and will not be shared with anyone unless you'd like us to do so. 

It is our hope that you are able to use this platform in whichever way that feels best to you, and we understand that whatever that may be, it is completely unique to you. We acknowledge the vulnerability it takes to speak out, and we know that many moms have yet to process the pain and trauma of birth behind bars. Even if you are not in a place to share your story with us, we still acknowledge that your story is valid, and that all women deserve a humane, supported, respected, and healthy childbirth experience. If you do choose to share, we are honored to be able to listen to your story, and we will use your experience to help inform and refine our own practices to make our program the best it can be.  

If you would like us to help you share your story with others, we will first be in touch to make sure we have everything right and exactly how you'd like to share it. You do not have to reveal your name, and you can include as little or as much detail as you'd like. Sharing your story with others is completely voluntary, but we would like to offer this platform as a space to promote healing, empathy, and guidance in the way ourselves and others support future incarcerated mothers. Above all, we believe that your voice is the most important, and should be echoed by all the work that we do. 

We appreciate your strength, courage, and willingness to help inform us. and we are extremely grateful for your willingness to help better our organization.

Thank you so much.

In solidarity,

The Michigan Prison Doula Initiative


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