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Breastfeeding in prison

(74 Posts)
prisonvisitor Fri 12-Aug-11 17:37:03

I'm off to visit my brother in prison (HMP Stocken) on Sunday. This will be the first time I have been with my 7 week old ebf dd.

Now I'm not allowed to take the pushchair/carseat/blanket in with me so I'm guessing she'll wake up as soon as I pick her up.

The prison website says you can bottle feed in the visiting room but not breast feed and if I wish to do so I can go to a private room. So I'll be doing a 4 hour round trip to spend 2 hours with my brother probably to spend half of it feeding in a private room!!

Can they refuse to let me bf in the room if I'm comfortable with it? I am very discrete when I feed but I'm guessing one of the many prison officers will notice if they're doing their jobs properly!!

verylittlecarrot Fri 12-Aug-11 17:39:39

You can bottle feed but not breastfeed in the waiting room? That actually sounds like unlawful discrimination. Unless there is some special loophole in the law for prisons?

prisonvisitor Fri 12-Aug-11 17:45:29

In the visitors room it says. Not sure about other parts of the prison.

I was thinking it was discrimination! I don't see why prisons should be different from anywhere else.

EauRouge Fri 12-Aug-11 17:48:06

This article explains the law well. I'm not sure about prisons, I think they would be covered under the 'single sex service for men' in this case. I can't see a way around it really sad I'll rack my brains but I doubt they will let you use a nursing cover or a sling if you're not allowed a blanket.

MotherPanda Fri 12-Aug-11 17:49:51

pretty sure this is unlawful - can you phone them and ask? make sure you say about the maternity/sex discrimination act etc, im sure prisons arent an exception but just incase they are it would be good to know, or to tell them they are being unlawful!

However, if you are worried about having to spend half your time away, could you express some milk, and either cup feed or bottle feed your 7 week old?

prisonvisitor Fri 12-Aug-11 17:53:05

Oh thats brilliant thank you. I can see that the actual prison would be a 'single sex service for men' but the visitors room would surely be classed as a public place. I can always try that if anyone says anything to me!

prisonvisitor Fri 12-Aug-11 17:55:25

Thanks motherpanda. I did ring and ask and they told me to check the website for all the conditions as they weren't sure. I have tried to express but never seem to get much milk.

I'll feed her before we go in so it should only be around 3 hours without a feed. I just don't want her to scream the place down!!

MotherPanda Fri 12-Aug-11 18:06:18

Don't worry about the screaming, and if she does scream - stick her on your breast and if any one complains about it you can give them the option of screaming baby, or a slight moment of seeing a bit of nipple!

3 hours between a feed! wowee! my baby is 17 days old now and will only go 3 hours between feeds if i 'drug her up' with a full bottle of expressed milk, otherwise its every hour... for about 45 mins.

RockOnMrs Fri 12-Aug-11 18:11:43

There's an important distinction between the visitors' room and the waiting room here.

I can understand why you will not be allowed to breastfeed in the visitors' room but I'm sure they will not prevent you breastfeeding in the waiting room.

If this annoys you, I suggest you think about it from the perspective of all the male prisoners for a minute or two. They have been locked up for months, they are missing their wives/girlfriends and children, they haven't had sex or even a cuddle for ages, and seeing you nurturing your infant, when they are missing their own children, would be incredibly hard for them to deal with. Torture for some of them, in fact.

Nothing in your OP suggests that the prison authorities are going to violate your rights to breastfeed; your idea of phoning in advance to ask about the waiting room is a good one. And I don't think the visitors' room would be classed as a public place, given that a member of the public would not be permitted simply to wander in there and start enjoying (sorry, can't think of a better word) the facilities. It is very obviously a room that is designed as part of the "single sex service for men" where those men's needs can be met, by allowing supervised visits for relatives etc. It is emphatically not a public place in the way a park/shopping centre etc is!

The prison rules are not designed to discriminate against you; they are designed for the safety, protection and wellbeing (both physical and emotional) of all concerned. Those men are the responsibility of the State while they are incarcerated, and to suggest doing something that could jeopardise their wellbeing, recovery and rehabilitation is incredibly insensitive, frankly.

prisonvisitor Fri 12-Aug-11 18:15:41

Yeah in all honesty 3 hours between a feed is not going to happen unless she's asleep! I really wish I could express. But there again she refuses a dummy so I'm guessing she'd refuse a bottle!

If I need to feed her I'll just do it and see what happens! Its not like they can lock me up as well!!

verylittlecarrot Fri 12-Aug-11 18:20:31

I think this prison may be acting unlawfully, as I can't find any exception in the equality act for prison visits. I would be tempted to contact the baby feeding law group to ask their help in approaching the prison to make them aware of this. They are not allowed to treat you unfavourably because you are a breastfeeding mother. Nor ask you to stop feeding your baby. If you are allowed to be there, and your baby is allowed to be there, and your baby is allowed to be fed there (as per the bottles being OK statement) then I think it very unlikely that they can argue that they are not being unlawful. And leaving themselves open to being sued.

prisonvisitor Fri 12-Aug-11 18:23:13

RockOnMrs I'm not trying to insensitive. I know what those men are going through a lot more than most. But i don't see why breast feeding is any different from bottle feeding in the visitors room, both are nurturing an infant.

I just want to enjoy spending 2 precious hours with my brother, I don't want to upset any other prisoners who I doubt will even notice I'm feeding.

verylittlecarrot Fri 12-Aug-11 18:23:24

Hang on a sec RockOnMrs!

Your post is confused. Women are allowed to bottlefeed their babies in front of these men. So nurturing an infant is clearly not considered torture as it is happily tolerated.

changeforthebetter Fri 12-Aug-11 18:26:39

shock at Rockon. I can think of many things which damage prison inmates - drug culture inside, brutality, too much time in cells, inadequate training and rehabilitation, too much time with hardened criminals, a bleak post-release future where no one wants someone with a record, overcrowding...... umm, sure there are more but a normal sight of a woman feeding an infant - yeah, right, that's going to be the most awful thing hmm

OP I hope you find some solution to this and that your brother benefits from seeing you.

fuckityfuckfuckfuck Fri 12-Aug-11 18:27:45

I don't think this is unlawful either. I can see it will be a pain for you OP but I really do think it would be best for you to bf if necessary away from the other prisoners. My dad is a prison officer so I can ask him to clarify if you like. I know he's in a maximum security though, and those are NOT people I'd feel comfortable feeding in front of.

Finallygotaroundtoit Fri 12-Aug-11 18:30:13

Rockon, were you alluding to bf being a sexual act but changed your mind and decided that such a 'nurturing' spectacle would send prisoners mad with lust envy? hmm

RockOnMrs Fri 12-Aug-11 18:30:41

verylittlecarrot No, I'm not confused. If you Google this particular prison, you will see that it houses men serving life sentences, including men serving sentences for sex crimes.

I didn't realise I would have to spell out so specifically why "a slight moment of seeing a bit of nipple" (to quote another poster) might be a problem.

I repeat, not allowing breastfeeding in the visitors' room is due to concern for the safety of all concerned.

That's not discriminatory; it is common sense.


verylittlecarrot Fri 12-Aug-11 18:33:24

Well, if the Equality Act 2010 says it's illegal to discriminate against a breastfeeding mother then it IS unlawful.

Unless there is some specific clause I haven't seen yet excluding prisons.

Either feeding a baby in front of prisoners is allowable, or it isn't. It can't be legal to make the distinction between method of delivery of food!

Breastfeeding is not a sexual act, nor is it indecent exposure in any way, nor is it inflammatory behaviour.

Finallygotaroundtoit Fri 12-Aug-11 18:33:31

Can women expose their legs in the visitors room? Are bare arms banned?

organiccarrotcake Fri 12-Aug-11 18:34:16

I'm not sure at all that the argument for it affecting the prisoners is valid if they're refusing you permission to BF with a cover of some kind (this may need to be something like a cardie to resolve the problems of blankets not being allowed). If they're worried about upsetting the prisoners because you're nurturing your child, then they wouldn't allow other mums to bring babies and children in who may get cuddles, kisses, and, frankly, be nurtured by bottle feeding (nurturing is hardly an exclusive for BFers).

It's not a male-only area. Unless there's a rule specific to prisons within the law that I don't know about, as women and babies are allowed in there, you're allowed to BF in there.

The idea of some prisoner getting upset at a flash of nipple is also a non-argument. If you can NIP without flashing anything at all (as many can) then they won't see anything, will they. If you use a cover of some kind they'll see less.

Personally, I wouldn't have asked, and as you are already able to do it discreetly then almost certainly no one will notice, so I would personally just crack on.

Frankly, rockonmrs, I feel that the idea that a discreetly BF baby being something that might "jeopardise their wellbeing, recovery and rehabilitation" is ridiculous. If they're that bloody sensitive anyone's friends, relatives or children might cause them distress of some kind and no one should be allowed in. Making out that that BFing is a special case is bizarre and also offensive to bottle feeding mums, as though they're not nurturing their LOs as much as BFing mums are.

organiccarrotcake Fri 12-Aug-11 18:35:53

Bloody hell, rockonmrs, are you saying that BFing is a sexual act, and if the OP partakes in this blatent act in front of other prisoners she may be in danger?

verylittlecarrot Fri 12-Aug-11 18:36:01

And with respect, your post was about how nurturing a child would be difficult to see. This has nothing to do with people objecting to nurture, as you know.

This is to do with people confusing breastfeeding with something sexual.

No need to sigh.

prisonvisitor Fri 12-Aug-11 18:36:44

The prison is a cat c. So any prisoners that are serving life sentences would be nearing the end of their sentence.

organiccarrotcake Fri 12-Aug-11 18:39:25

Not to mention that the OP points out that she can BF discreetly anyway, so no nipple to be seen. And if she's in so much danger, I'm sure that she can pull a cardie or coat around herself, just in case the baby comes off unexpectedly and some inmate can't hold himself back.

OP, you might consider that this is a non-problem and go and enjoy your visit. I hope your BIL is ok.

prisonvisitor Fri 12-Aug-11 18:43:39

Thanks organic. Its all stressful enough without thinking about all this. I just want to see him!

Dd is my 4th so I'm very comfortable with bf in public and I'm sure no one will even notice.

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