Over 200,000 women are incarcerated in the United States’ federal and state correctional institutions on any given day. In fact, more women are incarcerated now than ever before, and those rates of incarceration continue to grow at an exponential rate. Despite this large increase in the number of incarcerated women, jail policies, health-care protocols, and important interventions continue to focus primarily on incarcerated men and fail to consider the gender-specific needs of the increasing population of incarcerated females.

This comment discusses ways the United States prison system fails the pregnant women in their care. It discusses four main points including: the lack of proper nutrition of the pregnant mother-to-be while she is incarcerated; the act of shackling in-labor mothers while they are transported to the hospital to give birth and while in active labor and delivery; the aftercare and treatment of the new mother and the newborn infant immediately following the birth; and the detrimental effects of the lack of proper nutrition and care on a newborn infant born to incarcerated mother when the mother did not receive proper nutrition and care while incarcerated and pregnant. This comment advocates for a reform in policy and protocol regarding both federal and state prison systems, in order to afford an incarcerated pregnant mother-to-be proper health care and the children born to incarcerated mothers with a vital healthy start to life.