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Arranging follow-up

People will (or should) return several times over the course of their pregnancy.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

One of the strengths of the antenatal care setting for addressing domestic abuse is that people will (or should) return several times over the course of the pregnancy.

However, it may not be possible for that person to see the same health professional, which is another reason why it is crucial that the DVA is recorded in the medical record. Making it visible to other team members means they are made aware of current/ongoing risk should they see the pregnant person in future.

Pregnancy journeys open up opportunities for providing support over time, giving a person the tools and space to increase their awareness of the abuse, the impacts of the abuse on them and their developing baby, to explore their options for support within their own family/social network, and to access more formal support. If previously, they withheld consent for sharing DVA information about them with other providers (for example, their family doctor), the follow-up appointment can be an opportunity to revisit concerns.

It is vital that the antenatal care environment is welcoming and promotes an atmosphere of empathy, warmth and support. It also needs to promote messages about the unacceptability of domestic and gender-based violence and where to get help and display posters and pamphlets in waiting areas, consulting rooms and in women-only spaces.

Arranging for follow-up is an important part of the process. It can be a lifeline.

It reminds the person there will be another opportunity to discuss issues they are experiencing. In the meantime, providers should ensure that pregnant people are equipped with 24/7 helpline numbers and know how to keep themselves safe if their partner or other family member becomes abusive.

© 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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