Statistics show that 1 in 5 pregnant women experience abuse during their pregnancy. This makes pregnancy abuse much more common than most people think. There are different reasons why abuse may exist during a pregnancy. It could be a continuation of abuse that has already been occurring in the relationship or the abuse could start with the pregnancy. Some reasons for this are:
• Your partner is upset or angry about the pregnancy
• Your partner is stressed that the pregnancy is coming too close to another pregnancy
• Your partner is upset the pregnancy was unplanned
• Your partner is jealous of the baby
These are some common reasons but there is never an excuse for pregnancy abuse. There are many problems which can result from pregnancy abuse. In addition to the physical damage that it can cause, your baby can also be affected by your moods and emotions. When you are upset or depressed, this can affect your unborn baby's development. Some problems that can come from pregnancy abuse are:
• Bleeding early in the pregnancy (1st and 2nd trimesters)
• Premature birth or small birth weight
• Lack of nutrients (from not eating, or not eating right) can result in developmental problems
• You feel upset or depressed
• You feel angry, lonely or have low self esteem
• Your baby could have problems after birth
• You are at higher risk for abuse of tobacco, drugs and alcohol during pregnancy
The first step to helping pregnancy abuse is to recognize it. Many women do not realize they are being abused or they make excuses for their partners and think they are just stressed from the pressures of the new baby. This is never an excuse for hitting, slapping, punching you or calling you names and verbally abusing you, ignoring you or harming you in any way. There is also no excuse for sexual abuse during pregnancy.
If you are being abused in your pregnancy, it is important that you get out. For the safety of yourself and your unborn child you need to remove yourself from the situation. You can think about reconciliation later if your partner is willing to get help for his abusive actions but don't stay in the home based on the promise that he will stop or "won't do it again".
To leave an abusive partner, you want to be sure you are safe. Talk with someone you can trust about your plan to leave and get help and protection. If you don't have anyone to go to, consider a women's and children's shelter or talk with your OB about your problem. Your doctor will be able to help you get someplace safe for you and your baby. Consider getting a PFA order (protection from abuse).
Not only is pregnancy abuse unhealthy for you and your unborn baby but a man who abuses a pregnant woman is also much more likely to abuse your children as well. This is a situation you want to get out of right away. Remember the longer you stay and the more often you allow it to happen, the more difficult it will be to leave.