According to Women's Aid 30% of domestic violence starts or worsens during pregnancy. Where abuse occurs during pregnancy, injury and assaults can involve punches or kicks directed at the abdomen, risking injury to both the mother and the foetus. Pregnant women may be prevented from seeking or receiving antenatal care or post-natal care.
This abuse can further lead to ongoing emotional and psychological problems that produce heightened levels of 'stress' hormones which impact the baby's development and nervous system. Domestic abuse during pregnancy can increase rates of miscarriage, premature birth, foetal injury and foetal death. In addition, if the mother is being abused, this can affect her attachment to her child.
Leicestershire health professionals work to address barriers and maximise opportunities for disclosure. This includes working with specialist domestic abuse support services to develop initiatives and promoting services.
Pregnancy is included as a high risk indicator of domestic abuse in the DASH risk assessment, due to additional vulnerability and risk of escalation of harm.