Domestic Violence and Pregnancy

Domestic violence is more common than any other health problem among women during pregnancy. It greatly threatens both the mother's and baby's health. Domestic violence is a pattern of assault and coercive behavior, including physical, sexual and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion that adults use against their partners.

This includes, but is not limited to, being:

  • Hit, hurt, pushed
  • Threatened or made to feel afraid by your partner
  • Forced to have sex or do something you didn't want to do
  • Kept from your family, friends or from being in control of your own money

Effects of Domestic Violence During Pregnancy

If you are being hurt or threatened by your partner while you are pregnant, you have a higher chance of:

  • Injury to your uterus
  • Miscarriage, stillbirth or premature baby
  • Getting a dangerous vaginal infection from forced or unprotected sex with someone who has an infection
  • Increased first and second trimester bleeding

Violence also increases your baby's risk of:

  • Weighing too little at birth
  • Having trouble nursing or taking a bottle
  • Having sleeping problems
  • Being harder to comfort than other babies
  • Having problems learning to walk, talk and learn normally
  • Experiencing lasting emotional trauma
  • Being physically and sexually abused
  • Being hurt during a fight

In order to have a healthy pregnancy and baby, you must be free of violence and fear. If you are experiencing domestic violence, it is important that you contact your health care provider for help. There are a variety of community resources available that will help you develop a safety plan for you and your baby.

Community Resources:

Living in a Non-Violent Community (LINC) at UCSF
Case management and mental health services for families with children birth to age 18 and community education and training
Phone: (415) 885-7636

SafeStart Support Line
Information, 24-hour support and case management for parents of children under age 6 exposed to violence
Phone: (415) 565-SAVE
(415) 565- 7283

W.O.M.A.N. Inc.
24-hour counseling services, shelter availability and referrals for legal assistance
Phone: (415) 864-4722

La Casa de Las Madres
24-hour counseling and shelter resources, with Spanish speakers available
Phone: (877) 503-1850

Asian Women's Shelter
Counseling, advocacy and shelter resources for the Asian community
Phone: (415) 751-7110

Communities United Against Violence (CUAV)
Advocacy and support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community affected by domestic violence
Phone: (415) 333-HELP
(415) 333-4357

Teen Dating Violence Hotline
24-hour counseling and referrals for teens
Phone: (877) 923-0700

Victim Services
Advocacy service in the criminal justice system through the San Francisco District Attorney's Office
Phone: (415) 553-9044

National Domestic Violence Hotline
24-hour toll-free information and referrals from anywhere in the U.S.
Phone: (800) 799-SAFE
(800) 799-7233


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.