1,400 babies are born each year inside the prison system. Despite these staggering numbers, there are no formal laws protecting lactating individuals behind bars. The majority of incarcerated mothers are denied any opportunity to breastfeed and have very limited accommodations to express breast milk, which runs counter to recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) that incarcerated mothers breastfeed or express milk for their children.
To learn more about MIBFN’s approach to Incarceration, read the System Changer’s Guide to Incarceration and click the resources below.
Get to Know the Campaign
In support of the breastfeeding rights of incarcerated mothers, we advocate for the following:
- Lactation accommodation policies should be adopted for all incarcerated mothers.
- Milk expression programs should be adopted for all incarcerated mothers.
- Humane birthing practices that support laboring women and their infants should be adopted and provided for all incarcerated mothers.
- Whenever possible, incarcerated mothers should have direct access to baby through Prison Nursery Programs.
- Community-based alternatives to incarceration should be provided as viable sentencing options for mothers.
- Policies should support treatment as an alternative to punishment through trauma-based services.
- Incarcerated mothers should receive services that focus on the parenting relationship between mother and child.
To view the full policy position, download the position paper here.
We need your help! Please share your stories and experiences to help us build a better toolkit for creating change for lactating women in the prison system and for their children.
- Have you supported a breastfeeding mom who was pregnant or lactating during the time she was imprisoned?
- Are you a healthcare professional who cared for an incarcerated mother before, during and/or after the birth of her child?
- Are you a lawyer who represented a pregnant or lactating mother who was incarcerated?
- Do you work in the prison system and interact with incarcerated mothers who are pregnant or have recently given birth and are lactating?
- Are you a mother who was incarcerated after giving birth and continued to express breast milk for your child?
Click here to share your story.
Click here for all the tools necessary for sharing about this toolkit.
Please feel free to copy and paste any text needed and include the photos provided as necessary.
Interested in joining the movement?
- Watch the Incarceration tools video
- View the Incarceration tools brochure
- Utilize the Breastfeeding and Incarceration resource list (English | Spanish | Arabic | Burmese | Japanese)
- View and customize prison sample lactation policies
- Customize the sample letter to the judge (English | Arabic | Burmese | Japanese)