On the topic of imprisonment and the people behind bars, oftentimes the most vulnerable group isn’t the most visible. It’s no secret that black and brown men are unjustifiably locked up, but minority women are as well. A 2014 report published by the Vera Institute of Justice and The Safety and Justice Challenge showed that minority women are being locked more than any other group, and many of them are mothers, and thousands of them are pregnant. How does the correctional facility handle these women? Appallingly.
A 27-year-old woman gave birth alone while behind bars and received no medical care during her entire labor.
Diana Sanchez was locked up at eight months pregnant on identity theft charges. The report by the Vera Institute shows that most women are jailed for nonviolent crimes, so it is unclear why they couldn’t help Sanchez as she was not a threat to anyone. On July 30, she was examined by a nurse who in turn told her “that she needed to receive immediate medical attention if she ‘started having contractions if she had noticed any fluid leaking from her vagina,'” USA Today reports.
For the next several hours Sanchez pleaded for help. She called on anyone that could hear her that she was having contractions, but no one ever came.
According to the New York Times, at least one person did come to her door. The video footage shows that someone slid a white mat under Sanchez’s cell door. How would a mat help during this process? Minutes later, her baby was born. He was born at a little over five pounds. Medical personal did attend to the baby after he was born. Her due date was still more than a week away. Yes, this is cruel but is it illegal for prison officials to not provide medical attention to someone who is in desperate need of help, let alone to someone who is in labor?
An attorney for Sanchez said it is illegal for prison officials to turn their back on a pregnant woman in labor, and that is why they’re filing a lawsuit.
“What should have been one of the happiest days of her life was instead a day of unnecessary terror, pain, and humiliation,” the lawsuit said. Sanchez is suing the city and county of Denver, Denver Health and Hospital Authority, and six individuals — two nurses and four sheriff’s deputies.
Her lawyer, Mari Newman, said her client is traumatized over what happened to her in jail. If some women experience postpartum depression after they give birth, just imagine the pain that Sanchez must be under after experiencing such trauma.
“Diana is struggling,” Newman said in an interview with the New York Times. “She continues to flash back to the event. She was absolutely petrified, and nobody would do anything to give her the medical care that she so obviously needed. This is the kind of trauma that doesn’t go away.”
In response to this lawsuit, the Denver Sheriff Department released this statement to the New York Times, “To make sure nothing like this happens again, the Denver Sheriff Department has changed its policies to ensure that pregnant inmates who are in any stage of labor are now transported immediately to the hospital.”
They also report that after an internal investigation, their employees acted in accordance with their policy. In other words, not helping a woman who is behind bars and is in labor is proper protocol. Sanchez has since been released and is at home recovering with her baby boy.
More than 12,000 pregnant women are put behind bars every year, the American Civil Liberties Union reports. Some of them are forced to have their babies while being shackled to their bed.
“I felt like a farm animal,” Michelle Aldana said of her experience giving birth while in prison and chained to her hospital bed.
Each state has different laws that either requires women to be shackled en route to the hospital or while giving birth but this there is no hard law across the board, which gives way for major liberties when it comes to pregnant women in jails.
Democratic lawmakers have tried to pass the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act which would allow prison officials to remove the women’s cuff and chains while giving birth, but only some states have agreed to this policy.
Some people are dealt a tough hand in life and, for whatever reason, aren’t able to cope with it. They might spiral into bad lifestyles choices or other unhelpful coping mechanisms. However, other people are able to rise above adversity. Like Juan Rivera, a man who spent 20 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit.
After he was wrongly convicted of murder, 48-year-old Juan Rivera used his settlement money to open up a barber college with his former prison guard.
Juan Rivera went to jail for the rape and murder of 11-year-old Holly Staker in 1992. Chicago police used unlawful psychological mind games over the course of a four-day interrogation to coerce Rivera to admitting to the crime. The Chicago police also destroyed DNA evidence and lied to the prosecution team. Juan Rivera spent 20 years in Stateville Correctional Center.
While he was in prison, Juan Rivera became friends with prison guard and barbershop coordinator, Bobby Mattison. Mattison knew that some prisoners just needed the right opportunities to make better life choices. After a lot of hard work, Mattison opened up the first licensed barber college in a maximum security prison. Rivera was one of his students.
“We lock them up well, but what do we do to help them get back on their feet?” Mattison told Block Club Chicago. “I see these guys coming in and out. I knew I wanted to do something to help them.
It was through Mattison that Rivera began to change his attitude and outlook on life. When Rivera left prison, the city of Chicago awarded him $20 million in a wrongful conviction suit. Rivera knew exactly what he was going to do with the settlement money: give back to his community.
Together, Rivera and Mattison founded Legacy Barber College. Legacy Barber College recruits students from inner-city Chicago who are in danger of getting caught up in a life of crime. The barber college partners with high schools, community colleges, and career day fairs to show kids that “they can find a good career even if college isn’t an option.”
“This started, believe it or not, in prison,” Juan Rivera said. “I saw a need. We want to help the less fortunate. Because once they get out, they usually have nothing to fall back on.”
Legacy Barber College’s 32 current enrollees are also college or high school students. At the school, students can earn their barber’s license, but they also learn “financial literacy, customer service and running a business.”
But Legacy Barber College’s services aren’t limited to teaching. They also, naturally, give haircuts. “We want the community to know it’s theirs, not mine,” Juan Rivera said. “We want people to feel welcome and comfortable taking their kids and family here.”
Women in their first trimester of pregnancy experience extreme hormonal changes that can lead to some pretty bizarre symptoms. From extreme cravings, even for non-food items such as pica, to a heightened sense of smell, it often seems like a pregnant woman could be experiencing an actual possession.
Women on Reddit are sharing the most bizarre symptoms they wish people had given them a heads up about before they got pregnant.
Check them out below!
“Nosebleeds. Not currently pregnant, but when I was, I got nosebleeds every few days during the first and second trimesters.”- creativeandwonderful
“From my mom: I paralyzed her from the waist down for a few hours because I decided to take a nap on her spinal cord in the third trimester. The doctor’s response was ‘yeah you’ll be able to move again once they wake up.’ Pregnancy is pure body horror.”- AbsolXGuardian
“That is awful. I’m glad it wasn’t permanent. I knew a mom of twins who had one of them move and dislocated some of her ribs. Just…holy cow. It’s scary to think about all the damage that tiny little being can do while inside you, not to mention when coming out. Then many years of them beating you up and wearing your body down. Thank goodness for those hormones that help you believe it’s all worth it.”- TCMueller
“This is mostly a 3rd trimester thing, but that when you are active and moving, it kinda rocks the baby to sleep.
But as soon as you lay down to go to sleep, baby wakes up and starts kicking and spinning.
Might not be super common (?), but I knew a lot of other mothers who complained about this, too.”- GingerMau
“Not a woman, but i wish i knew the warning signs of preeclampsia, Girlfriend was 7 months pregnant at the time, and had been complaining of generally not feeling good with a constant headache that would occasionally break for a bit, i came home from work(i work overnights) to her sleeping on the floor and i eventually got to bed but i woke up 3 hours later to hear a thud and she was having a seizure, turns out she went eclamptic, she ended up having a c section, daughter was in the nicu for a bit but both are doing great now. What really put things into how close my girlfriend was to dying was the doctors and nurses saying how few people they’ve seen go eclamptic and one of the nurses said shes only seen 3 cases in like 10 years and 2 of them died.”- LeButtSmasher
“How hungry you can be. All. The. Time. Especially twins.
Then how hungry you still are after baby comes.
Then his hungry you are while breast feeding.
And sometimes the weight doesnt go away. At least the kids dont care.”- kleigh1313
“I wish someone would have warned me about the constipation. Corollary: I wish someone would have warned me that ‘fiber supplement’ does not equal ‘stool softener.’ Today, we’re at 26 weeks gestation.”- InfernalWedgie
“Related– I did have a couple of friends warn me about constipation, but no one told me I would be as thirsty as I have been! I get constipated after any day where I didn’t drink a huge glass of water every single time I felt thirsty… but I’ve been constantly insanely thirsty since probably month 2. I’m drinking something like 8-10 12 oz glasses of water a day. And no, turns out it isn’t gestational diabetes… just pregnancy.
And lol, agreed on the fiber supplement– I’d say it was more of a gas multiplier than helpful. Real food fiber did better on that front (oatmeal, pears, prunes, sweet-potatoes. heck, even beans were better than the fiber supplement for me).”- badgersonice
“Your body produces a hormone called relaxin that helps loosen your pelvis in preparation for birth. Some women get waayyy too much too soon and it loosens everything to the point you lose mobility and every day all day is painful. Also your body pushes so hard during birth you can feel yourself shit your own asshole out.”- Jen_Itals
“During labor the “water breaking” is not one rush of liquid. it’s continuous and can occur for several hours. it’s horrendous and messy and incredibly awful to deal with. it feels like peeing but you have zero control over anything and if you tense up then everything is much more painful and weird feeling.
nobody ever told me that and i was VERY surprised to find out for myself.”-notgrass87
“YUP. Went to the hospital at 4CM, water broke the second I got into triage. Water continued to POUR out with every contraction until I laid down. An hour later, they decide to take me to L&D, I stand up, bam pouring buckets. Get to L&D, another big contraction and water pours out of me all over my poor nurses shoes. My god, I did not know my body could have that much liquid in it. It was insane. I was so embarrassed and kept saying sorry lol.”- The-Chonky-one
“To quote a doctor friend of mine: People don’t realize that it’s the worst day of their life for them, but for me it’s Tuesday. Stop worrying about embarrassing yourself.”- Klaus_Goldfish
“I had adult diapers given to me by my SIL (she had some unused ones left from her pregnancies). They are INCREDIBLY useful for if your water breaks, and after you give birth and there is blood, so much blood.”- CypripediumGuttatum
“I didn’t measure, but I’ve heard people describe it as 9 months of periods saved up and thought that was pretty accurate. I was more concerned by my 2nd degree tearing to be worried about the blood. They said if there were “clots” that was what to look out for (so if your placenta hadn’t all come out and could potentially rot inside you basically). There is no glamor and not much dignity in giving birth and the recovery. Good thing the babies are cute! 10/10 happy I did it once and would never do it again, props to the ladies that go for round 2+.”- CypripediumGuttatum
“Hair loss! After I had my kid I lost a ton of hair. I would pull fists full of hair during my showers. I thought there was something wrong with me because no one told me about this. Went to Google, totally normal and it happens to everyone. It grows back eventually and you’ll go through an awkward baby hair phase.”- sm1020
“Aahh something I actually know the science behind! So apparently when you’re pregnant, your head holds on to almost all of those dead hairs that your scalp would normally just get rid of everyday. We all lose some hair, but most of the time we don’t realize how much we lose, especially if you’re blessed with thick hair. So when you’re pregnant and your body is worrying about keeping baby safe and growing, it basically stops shedding dead hair, and then sheds it ALL AT ONCE right after baby is born. So you’re not actually losing more hair than normal, you’re just losing all of those dead hairs that you would have lost anyway over the course of your pregnancy. It takes some time to see that your hair is back to normal because your head is now growing all of those hairs back at once, but when all is said and done your hair isn’t any thinner than it was before baby! My hair stylist told me this when I started freaking out about my pregnancy and body changes. She saved a panic attack that day.”- aep17
“Tore up from the floor up” lololol. I’m 5 weeks postpartum and had my OB take a look today for any remaining stitches from my second degree tear. I tore alllll the way and I swore I could still feel some. She said that they were all gone, but then I went home and found a whole ass suture on my toilet paper. Took my first look down there and it looks like I was stitched up by Frankenstein. My taint straight up has a seam now.”- edgeofdoom
“My god, the pooping. I now I have a three month old, and while I can’t remember my first poop after delivery, I vividly remember crying on the toilet not being able to poop. And nobody warns you about the hemorrhoids. Mine were so big I couldn’t sit for two weeks, and poops came out in little nuggets. Sometimes I actually had to scoop it out. Going to the bathroom became an event. My husband said the sounds I made trying to poop were worse than what I did during labor.”- toot_toot_tootsie
“I had a total meltdown in the hospital because my entire extended family was on the phone with my mom asking to come over to visit. “They just want to see you because they love you!” Um, no they want to see a cute new baby while I’m still bleeding heavily and have to use a squirt bottle after I pee, so… no.”- killergiraffe
“This times 1,000. Mine was fine, but I follow a woman on Instagram who lost her daughter full term because the doctor didn’t induce. She had signs of cholestasis and wasn’t diagnosed for awhile, then went to the hospital for lessening movements, failed a NST and then HE SENT HER HOME.
Every time I read her story I am angry on her behalf. I know she’s said she felt uneasy, and the way doctors dismiss our concerns in general let alone while pregnant, I imagine she ignored her feelings because she trusted the doctor and didn’t want to be pushy. I’m a loud mouthed person and I still failed to assert my needs during my last pregnancy. I’m pro-medicine but people need to understand that there is a valid reason that people mistrust doctors. Please anybody reading this – advocate for yourself!!! Trust in modern medicine but if your instincts are telling you something is wrong, trust them.”- thatcondowasmylife
“L&D nurse here, and I just wanna say that while you can pass blood clots as big as a tennis ball, it’s not “normal.” We tell our patients if they pass blood clots bigger than an egg, they need to let their nurse or OB doctor know! Big clots like that can cause a patient to have a hemorrhage, and patients don’t realize this, but you can hemorrhage up to like 6 weeks postpartum! Also, if you’re bleeding heavily enough to have to change your pad hourly or more, please call your doctor. Your nurse will probably do a fundal massage a million times before you get discharged, and I always encourage my patients to learn how to do it because it helps ensure the uterus is doing what it should do!”- little_ginger1216