The kick inside : an account of the experience of pregnancy in prison.
In the aftennath of the policy crisis which followed the chaining of pregnant prisoners in
labour and childbirth, this study constitutes the first to provide qualitative data
(supported by basic quantitative analysis) derived from in-depth interviews with
pregnant prisoners about their experiences, conducted in England and Wales. From this
data, the thesis describes: ( a) the characteristics of pregnant prisoners, (b) the effect of
pregnancy on the experience of imprisonment, and (c) the effect of imprisonment on the
experience of pregnancy. In addition to this, the thesis presents an account of Prison
Service policy and practice relating to pregnancy in prison using data obtained from
questionnaires completed by prison staff.
Infonned by the medicalisation critique and perspectives from Foucault, it is argued that
due to the construction of pregnancy and childbirth as medical events, pregnant
women's bodies are subject to medical control and intervention. The reproduction and
enforcement of this medical model in Prison Service policy and practice duplicates the
control endured by pregnant prisoners producing docile bodies, subject to controlled
knowledge and restricted autonomy. The overall effect of this is the deconstruction of
women's competency to deal with pregnancy and childbirth. The thesis argues that the
motivation behind this control is the creation of productivity, namely, healthy bodies and
the control of sexuality, and the perpetuation of docility, through the social control of
women's multiple-deviance. The thesis attributes the success of this control to the selfpolicing
operated by pregnant women, which is evident from their expectations and
demands for pregnancy, even in prison. Finally, the thesis argues that the conditions
experienced by pregnant prisoners are punishing, in view of the dual control endured
and the physical effects of imprisonment on pregnancy.