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Unhealthy Relationships and Abuse During Pregnancy

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Recognize unhealthy and abusive relationships.

Pregnancy is an exciting and joyful time for many families, but for those involved in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, it can be a time of increased fear and stress. Several factors can contribute to abusive behavior towards a pregnant woman by her partner, including fear of the changes to the relationship or financial situation, stress over a pregnancy that was not planned, or jealousy toward the child due to the woman’s attention being focused on the baby instead of the partner. These factors may cause a relationship that was previously unhealthy to escalate into an abusive relationship, putting both the woman and her baby in danger.

Healthy, Unhealthy, Abusive…how do I know?

In a healthy relationship, both partners are able to discuss personal feelings and are heard and respected when differences arise. There is mutual trust and honesty, and both partners feel comfortable spending time with other family and friends.

A relationship could be unhealthy if either partner is embarrassed or unwilling to say how they feel, is ignored or not respected, if disagreements happen frequently and escalate easily, or when one person feels jealous every time their partner spends time with others.

The relationship is abusive if one partner uses a pattern of emotional, financial, sexual, or physical behaviors to maintain control over the other. This can include threats, isolation, and intimidation, and may become violent.

If you are unsure if you are involved in an abusive relationship, ask yourself the following questions outlined by the March of Dimes.

Ask yourself:

  • Does my partner always put me down and make me feel bad about myself?
  • Has my partner caused harm or pain to my body?
  • Does my partner threaten me, the baby, my other children or himself?
  • Does my partner blame me for his actions? Does he tell me it's my own fault he hit me?
  • Is my partner becoming more violent as time goes on?
  • Has my partner promised never to hurt me again, but still does?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you may be in an abusive relationship.

It is dangerous to continue living in an abusive relationship, especially during pregnancy when the  woman is more vulnerable and emotions tend to be more on edge. In addition, the abuser is likely to continue with violent or harmful behavior after the baby is born, so the best option for the safety of you and your baby is to seek help now. Continuing in an abusive relationship during your pregnancy is extremely harmful to your physical and psychological health. If you know you are in an abusive relationship and you are ready to take steps to leave, you can visit the The National Domestic Violence Hotline website or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for assistance in making a safety plan or help with leaving. You can also talk to your doctor during your prenatal care visit, a trusted family member or friend, or our staff at The HOPE Center. We can assist in connecting you with safe housing, prenatal care, and the material resources you will need for your new baby, just give us a call at 770-924-0864 for your free appointment.