My Week: Six days in the life of a woman prisoner who has just given birth and is fighting to keep her baby

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I'm a week past my due date, but I don't want to go into labour yet. Not until the court hearing on Tuesday. That's when we challenge Holloway's decision that I can't stay in the mother and baby unit and I must give up my baby.

I'm keeping my legs crossed, but I'm in a lot of pain. At weekends, we're locked into our cells at 5pm until eight in the morning. It's frightening on my own. You can shout out the window, but it's not like me to do that. I'm worried that the officers won't take me to hospital in time.

There was a girl a few months ago who gave birth into her pyjamas in the corridor - she didn't even reach the ambulance. I don't want the stigma of giving birth in Holloway prison.


The mornings are the worst. You wake up, they unlock the door and you think: "Oh God, another day to get through." Being pregnant has been the one thing that has helped me survive everything. I talk to her when we are on our own. Until my problems started about keeping the baby, I felt having my daughter would make the sentence easier, because at least I had something to live for. So I was looking forward to the birth.

I used to work in the sewing-rooms, but I've been off for about a month. So I go to art education for a drawing class. I've got two years to go and I'd like to finish the psychology degree I was doing. Mental health really interests me. But that will have to wait for now.

Lunch is at quarter to twelve. I've not been eating much this last month. The food is very stodgy - potatoes and rice. But once a week we get four apples and three oranges.

We're locked up at quarter to eight. It's right in the middle of Coronation Street. I don't watch it, but other people are always asking to stay a bit longer.


Didn't sleep last night. Then, early in the morning, my waters break. I alert an officer and they take me to hospital in an ambulance. I'm not handcuffed, but two officers are with me. They are very supportive. I'm pleased I've hung on until today's hearing. I hope I'll hear good news once I've had the baby.

They give me gas and air, which helps with the contractions. My mum's in the labour ward with me, along with the baby's father, and a birthing partner I met at the antenatal classes in prison. She helps me breathe, rubbing my back. Two officers are also there, but when the contractions get really strong a doctor asks them to leave, so they go.

I start pushing, and very quickly she's out. She is born at ten to six in the evening and weighs 6lb 11oz. She cries straightaway. I'm in too much pain to take her immediately, so her dad holds her for the first couple of minutes. He starts crying. Then I take her. She is so beautiful, a tiny parcel of beauty. At about nine o'clock, I get back to the maternity ward and they tell me that we lost the hearing. I'm gutted, but they say that they will appeal on Friday, so maybe there is still a chance.


It's a good day. My family comes in to see the baby. And the officers are really nice. Some of them have children, so they give gentle hints on how to hold her and how to feed her. I'm really bonding with her and hope everything will turn out all right. The baby drinks like a fish. But breast-feeding is hard. I think it's all the stress. There are a lot of dirty nappies. At first, they are not too bad. But now they are going green. She looks just like her father - the forehead, the mouth. She's got my nose, but that's about it.


I dress the baby in pink: a cream hat with pink flowers and matching body-suit, and socks her father bought. Her brown eyes are open, really alert. But it's a bad day. I've been crying.

The governor of the prison comes to see me in the morning. She stays about two minutes and doesn't look at the baby. She says I'll have to give her up tomorrow. That messes me up completely. Yesterday, I was bonding with her. Now, I'm afraid to get close. I think she's picking up the tension because she is crying a lot. I pick her up and she calms down. She recognises my voice.


The appeal is this afternoon. I don't know what's going to happen. I want to tell the judges that the prison has made a mistake. If they take my baby away, I'll be brought back to prison and put in the mental unit for a few days. I know I'll be catatonic. I won't be able to eat.

Then I'm told that the hospital wants to keep me for a few more days for tests. I'm so relieved. Whatever the outcome, I have a few more days to bond with my baby.