Going to prison or jail while you are pregnant sometimes can’t be helped, but you will need to be sure you get the proper treatment and medical care while incarcerated. You’ll also need to make arrangements for the baby after he or she is born. Banking on the belief you will be released before your due date or that you can make the arrangements after you are locked up is not a wise decision. The following steps are important.
While you are being processed, let them know you are pregnant. If you were given time to get things together before reporting, be sure to bring copies of your OBGYN records with you to check in. If not, be sure to tell whoever is processing you how far along you are, what your due date is and if you have had any complications thus far.
If a medical check is not set up for you at that time, find out how to request one and do so. While the facility is responsible to provide prenatal care, sometimes things fall through the cracks. You should send out daily medical requests until they give you that first appointment.
Keep all prenatal appointments, take all prenatal vitamins and eat as well as possible. Jails and prisons are notoriously poor places to find nutrition, but with careful planning, you can do it. You will probably be put on a special pregnancy diet while incarcerated. Make the best commissary choices possible. Order cashews instead of candy bars and juice drinks instead of sodas.
Choose a guardian for your baby. Regardless of when your due-date is, this step is extremely important. Babies don’t read calendars. They come early and late all the time. If you do not have a guardian for your child and he or she is born while you are incarcerated, it could get messy. The state could put your baby into the foster care system while you sort it out.
Pick someone who will give your child a safe, loving, drug-free, crime-free home to live in until you are released. Ask that person if he or she is willing to do it. Be sure the arrangement can be long-term if needed. Things happen and you may not get released exactly when you think you will, or a new case against you might pop up. It is better to be prepared ahead of time, just in case.
Video: Pregnant behind bars
Notarize guardianship papers. This can be done before you go in or afterwards. Jails and prisons keep notaries on standby for such situations. Draw up a paper requesting that your baby be allowed to live with the named person while you are incarcerated and only for the time you are incarcerated. This protects you from any legal battles once you are released.
Obviously, if the baby’s daddy is willing and able to take on this task, the courts will probably grant custody to him. Speak with an attorney about your options if you do not want that to happen.
Final Thoughts: Lots of women go to prison/jail while pregnant. While it’s an awful place to go through a pregnancy, the facility must provide proper prenatal care. As long as you keep your appointments, take your vitamins, eat properly and make arrangements for the baby’s care after you give birth, then you know you have done everything possible to give your child a good start in life.