Michigan announces maternal care expansion for pregnant prisoners

A new policy announced Tuesday will provide pregnant prisoners in Michigan with more care and support.

The policy directive from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Corrections expands birth plans and allows prisoners to spend more time with their babies after delivery.

It also formalizes MDOC practices in areas such as the limitation on the use of restraints and the provision of Medication Assisted Treatment.

"Every pregnant Michigander deserves access to a safe birth, critical maternal healthcare, and essential post-partum supports," Whitmer said. "I am proud that MDOC, Senator Geiss, key stakeholders, and my office worked together to formalize these critical policies for treatment of pregnant and post-partum Michiganders who are incarcerated. Our actions today will improve health outcomes for moms and babies and make our corrections system more just."

Key directive points:

  • Birth Plan & Doula: Every pregnant prisoner will have the opportunity to develop a birth plan in consultation with health care staff and can work with a doula. Birth plans will respect the autonomy of the prisoner and empower them to make their own healthcare decisions.
  • Support Person: The policy formalizes a practice that has been in place the last few years to ensure every pregnant prisoner has the opportunity to designate a support person that may be present at the hospital and support the prisoner and baby.
  • Limits on Restraints: Pregnant prisoners will only be restrained up to an hour maximum and only if the safety of other inmates, staff, or the public is at risk. Consistent with current practice, prisoners may not be restrained during labor.   Visitation: visitation between post-partum prisoners and their newborns will only restricted in extreme circumstances and post-partum prisoners are allowed to breastfeed their newborns during visits.
  • Medication: Maintains the current practice of ensuring prisoners have access to peri-natal and post-partum vitamins as determined by their birth plan and can participate in Medication Assisted Treatment if appropriate based on substance use disorder history.
  • Training: MDOC will develop new training for staff and ensure appropriate staff are trained annually in managing pregnant and post-partum prisoners.