This review examined prenatal care provided to incarcerated women to identify areas where improvement is needed, and examined current legislative gaps such that they can be addressed to ensure uniform templates of care be instituted at women’s prisons.
Data were compiled from 2000-2021 citations in PubMed and Google Scholar using the keywords: prison AND prenatal care AND pregnancy.
Although the right to health care of inmates is protected under the Eight Amendment to the United States Constitution, the literature suggests that prenatal care of incarcerated individuals is variable and would benefit from uniform federal standards. Inconsistency in reporting requirements has created a scarcity of data for this population, making standardization of care difficult. Although incarceration may result in improved access to care that women may not have had in their community, issues of shackling, inadequate prenatal diet, lack of access to comprehensive mental health management, and poor availability of opioid use disorder (OUD) management such as Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT) amd Opioid Treatment Programs (OTP), history of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are just a few areas that must be focused on in prenatal care. After birth, mother-baby units (MBU) to enhance maternal-fetal bonding also should be a prison standard.In addition to implementing templates of care specifically directed to this subgroup of women, standardized state and federal legislation are recommended to ensure that uniform standards of prenatal care are enforced and also to encourage the reporting of data regarding pregnancy and neonatal outcomes in correctional facilities.

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