The Virginia Prison Birth Project Brings Support to Pregnant People Behind Bars 

Sara Zia, 42, is doing lifetime-shifting operate through the Virginia Jail Beginning Venture, a volunteer business she started envisioning in Charlottesville in 2017. A self-explained “doulavangelist,” she felt known as to offer you her providers as a prenatal yoga instructor and beginning doula at a close by maximum-safety condition jail. “I right away sense like a thing sacred is taking place when I’m in the prison,” claims Zia. “It is a present to be in a position to occur into this spot with a compassionate spirit, and to meet up with these people today.”

It essential two many years of tolerance, diligence, and collaboration with all stages of the Virginia Office of Corrections to establish the system. “It can take champions on the inside to do matters like this,” Zia claims. She also consulted with similar systems throughout the place, though there are only five some others in existence. The very first doula-supported incarcerated delivery in Virginia took location in 2019, and it’s an sign of the program’s good results that Zia has now lost keep track of of the quantity she has attended due to the fact then. 

The method, named Parenting from Inside of, is about substantially much more than attending births. It supplies gender-delicate, trauma-knowledgeable perinatal schooling, prenatal yoga, postpartum treatment, and lactation support. Zia is the birthing person’s advocate all over the practical experience, telling them at their 1st conference, “I don’t work for the hospital. I don’t function for the jail. I operate for you.” 

Probably the most important element of Zia’s assistance comes on the working day of clinic discharge. Just two days—if that—after the baby’s beginning, the birthing man or woman returns to jail, even though their toddler goes home with a family member or mate. 

A single of her purchasers, Abigail (last title withheld), gave delivery to a balanced infant boy, but then had to serve two remaining months of her sentence for a drug charge and parole violation. Abigail’s mom, Kimberley, took her new child grandson house from the medical center. “It was so heartbreaking to listen to Abigail wailing as I was leaving with the infant,” she recollects via tears. “Sara was so compassionate, so caring, so authentic in her support of Abigail. I don’t know that I could have still left with the little one without having figuring out she was there to convenience her.”