October 26, 2022
FDC Launched First Lactation Program at Lowell CI
Post-partum inmates receive services and support to provide nutrition to newborns and maintain connections
OCALA, Fla. The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) is proud to announce the launch of a first-of-its-kind program in Florida to support inmates who have recently given birth. With significant driving force from FDC leadership, the Lactation Program was recently launched, housed in a dormitory designated for pregnant and post-partum women at Lowell Correctional Institution.
“The needs and challenges of incarcerated women are distinctly different than that of their male counterparts. This project came from a recognition of the hardship associated with giving birth while incarcerated and seeking an opportunity to make a positive difference for both mother and child during a difficult time in their lives,” said Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Ricky Dixon. “This program will assist inmates in maintaining a distinct bond while providing education, and encouraging positive, healthy habits.”
In line with national research showing the numerous benefits of providing breastmilk to infants, participants at Lowell CI can now provide nutrition to their newborn while incarcerated. Partnering with the Florida Department of Health, staff from Healthy Start regularly visit the correctional institution to provide equipment and information regarding the benefits of pumping, proper care and overall motivational support.
“Breastfeeding can have long lasting, positive impacts on the health of mom and baby. Babies who are able to be breastfed have lower incidence of obesity, asthma, diabetes, and ear infections as children. Mothers who are able to breastfeed report having lower stress and are less likely to have breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers. The Florida Department of Health is happy to support this program,”said Anna Simmons, DOH, Bureau Chief of Family Health Services.
The housing area features a private lactation room, air conditioning, enhanced bedding, breast pumps, nursing pads, storage bags and freezers. Pregnant inmates receive a clinician approved pre-natal diet and are provided vitamins and nutritional supplements. The program provides support, education and an environment which fosters psychological, and general health benefits for both mother and their child.
Lowell CI is the largest women’s prison in Florida, with an average daily population of approximately 2,100 inmates. An average of 35 pregnant women each year are sentenced to state incarceration. Every inmate is given a health evaluation during reception and will be housed separately from the general population until cleared by a medical professional. Inmate participants in the lactation program will have the ability to stay in the pregnancy/post-partum dorm for up to 12 months after delivery.
As Florida's largest state agency, and the third largest state prison system in the country, FDC employs 24,000 members, incarcerates 80,000 inmates and supervises nearly 146,000 offenders in the community.