Great piece about the Birth Attendants and prison doulas

From the Seattle Times:

The doulas, members of an Olympia-based doula group called The Birth Attendants, work with the entire prison population as well as the prison’s Residential Parenting Program, which helps pregnant inmates and new mothers maneuver their way through childbirth and beyond.

“We’re not there to pass judgment,” but to educate, said doula Zimryah Barnes, who is part of the prison-doula project. “We don’t deny anybody support who requests it.”

Barnes and other members of The Birth Attendants have become a familiar resource around the prison since they brought the concept to prison officials in 2002. Barnes said the program is based on a similar one in prisons in the United Kingdom.

The doulas offer one-on-one counseling sessions and courses on sex education and family planning. Some doulas even are present when inmates travel to a Tacoma hospital to deliver their babies. Many of those inmates are allowed to raise their children inside the prison as long as they follow strict behavior guidelines.

Read the rest of the piece here. Yay Birth Attendants! Luckily I have heard rumblings of a few other projects like this one cropping up, which is really important. I also learned recently that while the United States only accounts for 5% of the world’s population, we are responsible for 25% of the world’s prison population. Scary.

Thanks to Feministing reader Amanda for the link

8 thoughts on “Great piece about the Birth Attendants and prison doulas

  1. christie July 16, 2008 / 7:32 pm

    Where have heard other prison doula projects cropping up? I am part of one in western Massachusetts– we are just getting started and would love to network and share resources. We talk the Birth Attendants, but its great to know other folks out there are doing this important work!

  2. radicaldoula July 16, 2008 / 8:47 pm

    I heard recently about someone in Philadelphia connected with the Mom Mobile (a mobile maternity service) also looking into it. And then there is the CO Prison Doula Network ( as well.

  3. diana December 1, 2008 / 3:27 pm

    We have been running a prison doula project for women in Holloway prison (London, UK) since 1996. We are always happy to hear from people who are interested in setting up similar services.

  4. Shelly June 15, 2009 / 10:38 am

    Are the prison doula projects strictly voluntary or are these doulas compensated in some way? Forgive me for asking, but I am a single mom working my way into the doula world and would love to minister to these women as a doula, but also need some form of compensation were I to do this.

    I would even be interested in figuring out how to start a project where I live (Ohio) if there is not already one started. Just need some details.

  5. the birth attendants October 20, 2009 / 3:27 am

    The Birth Attendants:Prison Doula Project is a grass roots organization working toward non-profit status. We have two staff positions and currently five collective doulas/educators who volunteer their time through the direct services (inside a prison facility and at a hospital with laboring people). We are extremely thankful to our communities, donors and support that help us make ends meet. Feel free to contact us at our website to chat more about chapter start up information.

    • Shelly October 31, 2011 / 9:50 pm

      Hi… what is your website? I am also a doula in Ohio and would devote time to this cause.

  6. megbabylon March 24, 2010 / 11:42 pm

    We have just started a prison doula program in Minnesota. It would be great to start a network of prison doula programs, so we can talk to each other about what we are doing. Additionally, I am a midwifery student, and plan to write my master’s thesis about prison doula programs. Any information you can provide about your program would be soooo useful! Contact me at

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