Nurse-Midwifery M.S.

Number of Pages


Year Approved


First Advisor

Wu, Katrina

Second Reader

Julie Ann Vingers


Introduction: Within the United States there are currently no federal guidelines or protocols to ensure appropriate medical care for incarcerated pregnant and postpartum women. The purpose of this integrative review examines incarcerated women’s lived experience and how programs and policies influence the maternal-infant dyad relationship. Methods: A databases search, citation search, and journal hand search were used to identify original research on inmates’ experience with programs, interventions, and policies intended to improve maternal-infant bonding in the pregnant or postpartum period from 2005 to 2023. The primary author used Covidence to screen and analyze articles. Additionally, Johns Hopkins Evidence-Based Practice appraisal tool was utilized for assessing quality and validity of the studies. Results: Eighteen studies were included in this integrative review. The majority were conducted in the United States. With an overall sample size of 1,075 participants, 22 state prison systems, and six jail systems. Research revealed an overall support for prison doula programs, prison nursery programs, and prenatal education programs. Some reported common themes from inmates of connectedness, meaning, securely attached infants, and a strong bond between the women and their infants, while others reported themes of intense sadness and depression when faced with focused separation along with insecure infant attachment. Furthermore, research revealed most correctional facilities do not allow breastfeeding or pumping of milk while in custody and require mothers to make appropriate caregiving arrangements for their infants. Discussion: Incarcerated pregnant and postpartum women do not receive the adequate evidence-based care. This leads to additional poor health outcomes for both the mothers and their infants, resulting in unintended punishment to the infant for their parent’s indiscretions. Continued advocation for the implementation of beneficial programs. Additionally, prison administration should adjust their policies to foster the continuation of breastfeeding while minimizing forced infant and maternal separation during their incarceration period.

Degree Name

M.S. Nurse-Midwifery

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis