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Limits of care

It is not the responsibility of staff to solve violence-related issues.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

It is important to recognise the limits of care delivered by clinicians/health professionals.

It is not the responsibility of staff to solve violence-related issues, address all violence-related needs or to address all aspects of treatment, care and support in one consultation.
(WHO, 2019)
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience (2016) state that a minimum condition for healthcare providers to ask someone about DVA is that it must be safe to do so.
Therefore, a pregnant person must be alone before they are asked about their own experiences of DVA. This is easier said than done.
Understandably, men and partners want and deserve to be part of their baby’s journey into the world; supporting partners by attending appointments is welcomed by childbearers and providers alike. However, to ask about DVA, partners must not be present as it will likely invalidate the pregnant person’s response, or have consequences for the abused partner later on.
It may also mean any opportunity for identifying the abuse is lost. Suggested practical approaches to spending time with women/birthing people alone may include sending the other parent on an errand or asking them to wait outside the area of consultation while confidential matters are discussed.


Reflect on and share any other hints or tips you have for spending time alone with childbearing people.


World Health Organization. (2016). WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience. Web link

World Health Organization. (2019). Caring for women subjected to violence: A WHO curriculum for training health-care providers. Web link

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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Identifying and Responding to Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) in Pregnancy

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