Domestic Violence and Pregnancy

Abuse may begin or get worse when a woman is pregnant. Data shows that about 324,000 women are abused while pregnant each year. Abuse is never OK. Abuse in pregnancy not only harms the pregnant woman, but also may harm an unborn child. Women who are pregnant and abused may be:

  • Hit in the belly, head or other places on the body.
  • Forced to give birth with people or in places that are not safe.
  • Made to work more than is healthy.
  • Made fun of for weight gain.
  • Forced to have sex or cheated on during pregnancy.
  • Denied money for medicine or vitamins.
  • Denied healthy food or rest.
  • Not allowed to keep money for maternity clothes or baby items.
  • Kept from doctors or medical tests.
  • Forced to use drugs or alcohol.
  • Told that sad or scary things may happen to her or the baby after birth.

Abuse can put the woman at risk for serious health problems. She may be at risk for sexually transmitted infections or future unwanted pregnancies. Her blood pressure may rise too high. She also may bleed from the inside of her body to the point of danger or death for her or the baby.

A baby may be born addicted to drugs or alcohol. A baby may be born too early or small and not be able to breathe or eat on his or her own for a while. The baby may die before being born or have health issues at birth.

You are not responsible for the abuse. Help is available for you and your baby. To find the domestic abuse program nearest you, visit and click on Find Help or use the Find Help map on the home page.

  • To reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline, call 1-800-799-7233 (TTY 1-800-787-3224).
  • To reach the National Dating Abuse Hotline, call 1-866-331-9474 or text loveis to 22522.