Abuse, whether emotional or physical, is never okay. Unfortunately, some women experience abuse from a partner. Abuse crosses all racial, ethnic and economic lines. Abuse often gets worse during pregnancy. Almost 1 in 6 pregnant women have been abused by a partner.
Abuse can come in many forms. An abusive partner may cause emotional pain by calling you names or constantly blaming you for something you haven't done. An abuser may try to control your behavior by not allowing you to see your family and friends, or by always telling you what you should be doing. Emotional abuse may lead you to feel scared or depressed, eat unhealthy foods, or pick up bad habits such as smoking or drinking.
An abusive partner may try to hurt your body. This physical abuse can include hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, pushing or even pulling your hair. Sometimes, an abuser will aim these blows at a pregnant woman's belly. This kind of violence not only can harm you, but it also can put your unborn baby in grave danger. During pregnancy, physical abuse can lead to miscarriage and vaginal bleeding. It can cause your baby to be born too soon, have low birthweight or physical injuries.
For many families, pregnancy can bring about feelings of stress, which is normal. But it's not okay for your partner to react violently to stress. Some partners become abusive during pregnancy because they feel:
It's common for couples to argue now and then. But violence and emotional abuse are different from the minor conflicts that couples have.
If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, you may be in an unhealthy relationship.
Recognize that you are in an abusive relationship. Once you realize this, you've made the first step towards help. There are lots of things you can do.
Tell someone you trust. This can be a friend, a clergy member, a health care provider or counselor. Once you've confided in them, they might be able to put you in touch with a crisis hotline, domestic violence program, legal-aid service, or a shelter or safe haven for abused women.
Have a plan for your safety. This can include:
Remember: No one deserves to be physically or emotionally abused. Recognize the signs of abuse and seek help. You might feel very scared at the thought of leaving, but you've got to do it. You and your baby's life depends on it.
Georgetown University's Maternal and Child Health Library - domestic violence and abuse information.
National domestic violence hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (7233), (800) 787-3224 TTY
Last reviewed October 2008
It's best to wait until after having your baby to get one. Here's why: Hepatitis B, a dangerous liver infection, and HIV/AIDS are two of many diseases that can be passed along through bodily fluids. This means you can catch these diseases if you get a tattoo from someone who uses a dirty needle. And you can pass these diseases along to your baby during pregnancy.
We don't know how tattoo dyes and inks affect a developing baby. Small amounts of chemicals that might be harmless to an adult can have a much bigger impact on a growing baby.
Most healthcare providers will give an epidural to a woman with a tattoo on her lower back. But they may decide not to if the tattoo is recent and fresh. If you have a tattoo on your back and are considering getting an epidural for pain relief during childbirth, find out what the hospital's policy is before you're admitted.
Some spa treatments are safe. Others may be more painful than usual. And some - like mud baths - are a bad idea while you're pregnant.
Any spa treatments that raise your body temperature (like mud baths, hot wax and seaweed wraps) are almost always unsafe during pregnancy. Steam rooms, hot tubs, and saunas also raise your body temperature. They can make you dehydrated and overheated. This can be dangerous for you and your baby. Avoid these treatments while you're pregnant.
Be careful with skin treatments like facials and body scrubs. During pregnancy, your skin changes a lot and may be extra sensitive. Before you cover your whole body with a product, test it on a small area of skin to be sure it doesn't irritate.
Getting your eyebrows done and having your bikini line waxed are usually safe during pregnancy, but they may feel more painful to your sensitive skin.