Philadelphia Medicine Summer 2018 - 31

p h i l a m e d s o c  .o rg

The Two-Generational
Approach to Mothers in the
Criminal Justice System
By: Marjie Mogul, Ph.D; Rosemarie Halt, RPh, MPH; Bridget Biddle, MSW

S

ince 1970, the number of women in jails nationwide increased
14-fold-from under 8,000 to nearly 110,000. Nearly 80 percent
are mothers and most are the primary caregivers of their minor
children. The overwhelming majority of women have a history of
trauma, substance use and mental health problems. Addressing their
well-being has a two-generational impact: providing support for
mothers in the criminal justice system also supports their children.

Southeastern Pennsylvania based nonprofit Maternity Care
Coalition (MCC) offers programs that support pregnant women
and families with children who have infants to three year olds. The
pillar MOMobile program has expanded over the almost 30 years
since it first rolled out and has been supporting women at Riverside
Correctional Facility (RCF) since 2006.
At MOMobile at Riverside, advocates offer a variety of programs
to mothers and pregnant women to address the detrimental effects of
incarceration on individuals, families, and communities. Participants
may choose the programs they participate in based on their needs
and interests.

in the class as part of a court-stipulated requirement in order to regain
custody of their child, while others are referred to the program by
their jail-appointed social worker.
Prenatal Education Series: Pregnant women are engaged around
best practices for labor and birth. It teaches women about the
choices they may have during medical interventions and helps them
develop skills to better advocate for themselves. When a woman who
is incarcerated goes into labor, the same advocates who facilitated
their prenatal class are able to offer them doula services throughout
their labor and delivery.
Doula Services: Doulas are trained to provide emotional, mental,
and physical support during labor and birth. They help mothers
make informed decisions about their own medical care as well as
care for their baby, and support them in advocating for themselves
to medical staff and family. Doulas stay with the mother for the
entirety of her labor and after birth, and help new mothers with
skin-to-skin bonding and breastfeeding initiation.

Lactation Program: The lactation program gives women the
Women who are incarcerated manage a range of challenges at opportunity to provide breast milk to their baby while incarcerated.
different stages of their prison term. By providing flexibility in its When a mother returns to Riverside after giving birth or if a mother
programming, MOMobile empowers each family to identify and is incarcerated while breastfeeding, advocates, jail and medical staff
address the challenges most important to them. While Riverside enroll the mother into the lactation program. Mothers pump three
contracts with many nonprofits to provide services to the women times a day using medical grade pumps in a lactation room and hand
incarcerated there, MOMobile is unique in the fact that it is onsite, pump when they are in their cells. Medical staff label and freeze
increasing its visibility to both moms and staff at Riverside.
the breast milk and advocates coordinate delivery with the baby's
caregiver and provide education around storing and thawing breast
MOMobile Riverside consists of six programs:
milk as well as troubleshoot any concerns a caregiver or parent may
have around baby's feeding. Many mothers report that this program
Nurturing Parent Program: This evidence-based program is aimed
builds a connection with the child despite their incarceration, as their
at treating child abuse and neglect. Advocates facilitate bi-weekly
breast milk is a unique way to provide nourishment.
psycho-education classes in which women reflect on and grow their
knowledge base around child development, discipline, the effect of Health and Wellness Workshops: Emotional eating, eating to
drugs and alcohol on family dynamics, and the impact of trauma on fight boredom and a lack of healthy food options are cited as causes
children as well as how to foster resilience. Some women participate for weight increase. Advocates facilitate monthly workshops for
Continued on page 32

Summer 2018 : Philadelphia Medicine 31


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