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Domestic violence: an emerging concern in maternity care

Sri Lanka college of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists
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  • Obstetrics And Gynaecology
  • Domestic Violence
  • Ecology


Domestic violence, a malady cross cutting all strata of the society, affects mostly women, but not exclusively, and affects their health and well being, particularly in the area of reproductive health. Pregnant women undergoing violence are at a higher risk of experiencing many negative health outcomes affecting the mother-to-be and the unborn baby. They include miscarriages, unwanted pregnancies leading to unsafe abortions, fetal death, growth restriction, abruption of the placenta and even homicide by the partner. Violence limits the freedom of making contraceptive choices for the woman making her vulnerable to uncontrolled fertility. Few women would volunteer information about abuse and unless the care provider is alert and vigilant the opportunity to identify and support her to prevent further violence will be lost. Many professional bodies recommend ‘routine inquiry’ from all pregnant women. It is also important to be on the lookout for indicators of domestic violence among pregnant women as they have many barriers preventing them from disclosing violence. Providing emotional support is an important component of care which is likely to prevent post partum depression and other mental ill health outcomes which are common among women undergoing domestic violence. It is important to recognize that women undergoing violence in pregnancy needs special attention and the care providers should build their capacity to care for them. DOI: Sri Lanka Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2011; 33: 142-149

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