There is no need to hide the bruises or stay silent about your fears. In an Australian first, one of the country’s largest and busiest maternity hospitals is officially reaching out to expectant mothers who are at risk of domestic violence.
The Safe Mothers, Safe Babies program at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne aims to help protect women when they are at their most vulnerable – while pregnant. It will run from the hospital’s Centre for Women’s Mental Health.
Pregnant women will be asked how safe they feel at home, with their partners and if there is anything causing them stress. Women who are unable to leave a relationship will be offered help and information about ways to keep themselves and their baby safe.
Centre director Professor Louise Newman says around 20 per cent of family violence starts in pregnancy and antenatal clinics are ideal settings to identify women at risk and offer real support.
“We know family violence increases in pregnancy with serious consequences for the woman and her baby,” Professor Newman says.
Prof Newman says tackling family violence early in pregnancy is particularly important because maternal stress can affect the development of a foetus in the mother’s womb.. She says developing infants are extremely sensitive to the effects of stress related hormones with potentially long term effects.
Babyology supports any cause that helps end the the violence experienced or witnessed by women and children in all its forms, such as the Polished Man campaign, which called on men to paint a nail to represent the one in five children affected worldwide.
(via The Age)