Pregnant inmates get necessary healthcare

From 2009 to 2013, 47 women were expecting a child before starting their sentences and gave birth in prison.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question on protocol for pregnant women prisoners, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Teo Chee Hean said on March 4 last year that this works out to an average of 10 inmates a year.

He added that the treatment protocol for pregnant inmates, before and after delivery, is in line with practices of public healthcare institutions.

DPM Teo said: "Pregnant inmates are seen regularly by the prison medical officer and specialists from KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH). When the inmates are about to give birth, they are sent to KKH for the delivery.

"Women prisoners are not restrained during childbirth.

"At other times when they are at KKH, restraints are applied, as for other prisoners outside the confines of a secure prison setting.

"However, prisons will provide appropriate waivers from these practices if required for the health and safety of the mother or baby."

DPM Teo also said that a prison is not conducive for raising a child and that prison staff would discuss alternative care arrangements for the baby with the mother.

Arrangements are then made with the inmate's family.

If not possible, prisons would work with the Ministry of Social and Family Development to make childcare arrangements for the baby in the community.

In cases where the care arrangements need some time to materialise, the baby would be allowed to remain in prison and stay with the mother.

DPM Teo said that inmate mothers and babies are issued basic necessities such as clothing, feeding bottles and diapers. They are also allowed daily out-of-cell activities.

He added: "Under the prisons regulations, a child may be allowed to remain in prison with the mother until the age of three.

"In practice, however, the duration that a baby remains in prisons is much shorter. The average duration over the last five years was three months."