The Minnesota Prison Doula Project


Imagine your first memories as a child are clouded in violence, fear, and instability.

The person who was tasked with keeping you safe, who you loved unconditionally, was also the person with whom you shared your first high.

You embarked on a decade-long battle with addiction, which began before you could drive a car.

You want nothing more than to overcome this darkness.

You are aware of cycles, how children repeat the patterns of their parents, and you’re terrified at the possibility that your kids could one day experience this nightmare.

You understand that the cycle needs to end now, that you will be the one to show them the way.

Imagine that you are an incarcerated woman. Now imagine that you are incarcerated and pregnant.

Today you are sitting in a women’s prison, carrying your third child, contemplating giving birth sober for the first time, without any family or friends. You need help. You need support.


Stories like these are a common reality for many women in prison today. That’s why this program is doing something about it.

From their website, “The Minnesota Prison Doula Project is a prison-based pregnancy, birth, and parenting project provided to women currently serving time at the Shakopee Women’s Prison. The program includes individualized support for expectant incarcerated mothers along with a mothering group facilitated by our doulas, providing support during birth along with the education and skills mothers need to be stronger and more connected.

The MN Prison Doula Project’s commitment to social change is illustrated in our six core beliefs:

-We believe that we are all connected and that by supporting those in our community who are struggling the most we can better the quality of life for all.

-We believe that all women deserve to make informed decisions about their bodies and their children.

-We believe that all humans have the capacity to change, grow, and transform through the birth process.

-We believe all women deserve the support of another woman at the time of her birth.

-We believe that traditions of female labor support improve the outcomes of labor and delivery.

-We believe that positive birth experiences contribute to improved bonding between mother and child and that this in turn reduces the likelihood of future abuse and neglect of that child.”

All children deserve a healthy start to life. Every child deserves to be welcomed with love, not fear or isolation, and all women deserve a safe birth experience. Among other things, doulas provide continuous labor support. Continuous labor support has been shown to decrease the risks of various birth interventions, including unnecessary c-sections.

The importance of support for women in childbirth cannot be overstated. The work doulas do is valuable beyond words. Where midwives, doctors, and nurses are there primarily for the baby, a doula is present for the mother. She is an attendant to the mother, providing her with prenatal, birth, and postpartum information. A doula gives emotional and physical support during labor, suggesting different positions and pain management techniques. A doula brings you water when you need it most. A doula whispers in your ear, “You can do it!” at the point when you’re sure you can’t. A doula is there to help as you welcome and get to know your new baby.

As of July 1, 2015 all incarcerated women in Minnesota will be allowed access to a doula, as well as prenatal education. This is a huge advancement in the treatment of women during pregnancy and childbirth. Isis Rising is a small grassroots project in which all of the money goes directly to programming. They need to be prepared to meet this need as the new legislation is enacted.

Giving Tuesday is a global day to encourage giving back through donations and supporting small businesses. We have Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday is your opportunity to really make a difference! If you’re looking for a way to give back this Giving Tuesday (or any time!), Isis Rising is a tremendously important organization to support. 100% of the donations from this fundraiser will be used solely to pay for births in 2015.

About 1 in 28 children in the United States have a parent in prison. That’s one child from every public school classroom in our country. It’s easy to look beyond our own communities to see suffering in other parts of the world, but there is true suffering in our own backyards. By donating to local causes, we are investing in a healthier community for our own families, and a better chance at a healthier tomorrow for all children.

Click here to make a donation to help mothers and babies have the birth experience they deserve!

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