Helping Incarcerated Mothers: Marianne Bullock and Lisa Andrews

By Wendy |

View all Women’s Health Heroes. Voting closes May 14. Background info here.

Entrant: Vicki Elson

Nominee: Marianne Bullock and Lisa Andrews, Co-founders, Prison Birth Project

Marianne Bullock and Lisa Andrews founded the Prison Birth Project (PBP), which serves incarcerated mothers at the regional women’s jail in Chicopee, Mass.

PBP visits inmates prenatally and postpartum. PBP provides childbirth education classes or individual instruction, as well as time-intensive labor support (“doula care”).

PBP doulas ease transitions between jail and hospital, support single mothers and whole families, help mothers cope with labor, and help mothers to make informed decisions about medical care.  They’ve even made it possible for some incarcerated moms to breastfeed successfully.

I’m utterly moved by the two young women who saw a need, and just started going into the prison to serve these mothers. Marianne was all of 24 years old when she and fellow young mother and college student Lisa (whose background is in nutrition and organic farming) started going into the Women’s Correctional Center.

Now, in addition to childbirth education and doula care, they have taken theMotherWoman training, and they have created a program called Mothers Among Us — support groups for mothers inside and those who have been released.

Whether or not mothers and their babies are ultimately reunited, PBP believes that both mothers and children are served when pregnancy and childbirth are well supported with skill and compassion.  No matter what has come before in these women’s lives, PBP believes that there is nothing to be lost by adding loving kindness to the equation.

The collective members — especially Marianne and Lisa — work very long hours for very little pay, performing services and growing the organization. They are making a big difference in the lives of some of the most appreciative members of our community.

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8 Comments

  1. Liz Friedman says:

    These women are nothing short of pioneers! They are radically changing the dialogue in our region for incarcerated mothers and all of us who mother in a society that in so many ways does not support our ability to do so.

  2. Tony says:

    One of the best groups that I have come across in many years of grant making to social justice organizations. A very committed staff and group of volunteers, creating change not only for but with incarcerated mother’s.

  3. Erika says:

    Yes, Marianne and Lisa are incredibly inspiring with their broad vision, passion, and commitment. PBP works to ease the hardship of being pregnant, giving birth, and parenting while incarcerated, and to create lasting change on these fronts. Such important work!

  4. laura says:

    I feel the work that mariann and lisa are doing is vital and soo helpful to those that are lost within the incareated world and their guidlines for caring for pregnant and incarcerated mothers,I have witnessed their work first hand and have been soo honored to have gotten the chance to have had the opportunity to meet these two passionate woman .Keep up the great inspiring work that you have done ladies you truelly are making a differance thank you

  5. SUSAN says:

    I have seen first hand the hard work and dedication these women/mothers put into their work, while RAISING THEIR own 3 yr old daughters and running a household. I am very proud of them both. Their hard work has MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE TO A LOT OF WOMEN. I am proud to say that I know them both personaly…..Yes, Lisa is my daughter and she is very dedicated and passionate about her work, and also a wonderful Mother/daughter. Love your Mother

  6. Sarah says:

    While the ideas and mission of PBP are admirable, it is starting to become well known in the community and especially to former PBP volunteers that most of this organization is just talk. I am not trying to be negative and are so thankful that this organization does exist. However, I would encourage everyone to look at their numbers and stats and see how many women they are actually helping before jumping on the PBP bandwagon.

  7. marianne says:

    hey all,

    we will gladly share our stats on numbers to anyone who wants them! we are an extremely small grassroots org yet we have held solid groups for 2 years now w over 250 women attended- and supported 7 women behind bars in their deliveries and postpartum as well as 2 after release… I would also love to talk to sarah- and if you a member or pbp who questions the work please bring it up to the collective at a member meeting! As a founder and a member I can honestly say that I have worked endlessly to start to build this organization along side MANY volunteers and community and women on the inside… sorry to hear that former members feel this way and wish that it would be brought up w us and not on a public forum. thanks for all the support folks! – m

  8. laura says:

    well a responce to sarah’s comment I am a PBP member and i totally disagree with your harsh comment .Mariann and lisa have worked extremely hard in getting this organization together!! When you first start a business do you start it off with a mllion customers ? no it grows by word of mouth and over time. The woman that these two awesome advocates have already helped and made a differance for is just the beginning. Over time the PBP will reach many many woman that need the help and support of all of us so. why dont you please check your facts and talk to some of the woman that the PBP has helped and made a differance for!!! Then you can actually speak from knowing the real facts. The woman that are incarcerated can not reach out and have a voice to choose to get help on their own!! Are they not people?? DO they not deserve a chosen way of delivery?? Do they not deserve the right to have added support for when they deliver? What just because they r incarcerated do they not matter?? Have you ever made a mistake that you wished you could go back and undo well unfortunatly these woman are paying the highest price for their mistakes. That does not mean that they r not mothers and people who deserve help and support. They are making great strides in their effort to help and support our forgotten mothers that are incarcerated!!! They matter too