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Domestic Violence During Pregnancy

There is a link between pregnancy and domestic violence. Homicide is actually the second-most prevalent cause of death for pregnant women, behind only car accidents. Women who are already at risk of facing domestic violence in their relationships face an increased risk once they become pregnant.

Anybody who faces domestic violence in his or her relationship should find a safe way out of the relationship. If someone is married to the abuser, filing for divorce should be a priority once he or she is in a stable place, away from the former partner.

Why Pregnancy is Correlated with Higher Instances of Domestic Violence

Pregnancy can be stressful for a couple, even under the most ideal circumstances. A partner might feel overwhelmed by the pregnancy and impending new responsibilities and lash out at a pregnant partner because of this stress. A partner might also feel threatened by the unborn child or even jealous that his or her spouse will adjust her attention and affection to the baby once it is born.

Domestic violence is about control. In cases where partners feel jealous or threatened by an unborn baby, violence can be an attempt to retain control over the pregnant partner. Coerced abortions are also prevalent in abusive relationships, as are forms of abuse like withholding medical care and forcing the pregnant partner to smoke, drink, and take drugs that could harm the fetus. In some cases, pregnant women willingly take drugs and use alcohol to cope with the abuse they face from their partners.

Often, victims are afraid to seek help because they are dependent on their abusers. When victims have other children, they may also fear losing their children or having their abusers retaliate by harming their children if they notify authorities of the abuse or attempt to leave the relationship.

How Domestic Violence can Harm a Fetus

Violence toward a pregnant woman can harm her developing fetus in various ways. Domestic violence during pregnancy is linked to low birth weight, miscarriage, and preterm labor. Mothers who were abused during their pregnancies also report higher instances of bonding and breastfeeding difficulties with their babies.

Other ways domestic violence during pregnancy can harm a fetus include:

  • Breaking the fetus’ bones;
  • Uterine rupture;
  • Placental abruption; and
  • Hemorrhaging.

When a pregnant woman is denied prenatal care, medical attention for injuries, or exposed to drugs and alcohol, her poor health takes its toll on her baby.

Malnutrition and exposure to drugs during gestation can put a child at risk of suffering developmental delays, poor physical health, and psychological disorders.

Work with an Experienced Divorce Lawyer

If you are a victim of domestic violence, get out as soon as you can and get the help you need, whether that is medical attention for your injuries or psychological counseling to deal with the emotional trauma of being in a violent relationship. To learn more about legally ending an abusive marriage, contact our team of experienced divorce lawyers at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd today to set up your initial consultation in our office.

Published November 15, 2017
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