The Michigan Prison Doula Initiative is a start-up nonprofit which seeks to support incarcerated mothers during their prenatal, labor, and postpartum process through doula support, childbirth education, and postpartum visitation coordination. Women who are pregnant and incarcerated represent one of the most vulnerable factions of our community. The portrait of the incarcerated mother is one often effected by poverty, racism, domestic violence and drug addiction. Therefore, pregnancies are often high-risk to mother and child, and marred by lack of adequate prenatal care. We are seeking to mitigate some of these effects by providing an experienced doula (birth partner) for each eligible mother, as well as full-spectrum childbirth and nutritional education classes. After the birth, MPDI seeks to work with MDOC and Catholic Social Services (the current placement coordinator), to allow for more visitation between mother and infant, creating opportunities for bonding and breastfeeding when available. Elsewhere, these efforts have been shown to reduce recidivism rates, strengthen the mother-child bond, and help reintegrate mothers back into their community upon release. It is our ultimate goal to train mothers post-release to work within our program in some capacity, offering no or low-cost doula and childbirth educator training as a means to widen employment opportunities for interested mothers. So far, we have developed our program and our board, and are in the process of finalizing our by-laws and applying for 501c3 status. We are working with the current childbirth educator to facilitate an education program with a wider scope, and are in discussions with Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility to launch a pilot program. It appears we are moving full steam ahead, and, as always, need funding and supporting partners to make this dream a reality!
Funded by Ann Arbor, MI (October 2017)