What Many Women DON’T Expect When They’re Expecting

By Carla McRee

In this month’s newsletter focusing on Domestic Violence Awareness Month, you’ll read about Malia, who was beaten by her husband for the first time while she was pregnant with their firstborn son. Studies indicate that this isn’t an isolated story — not by a long shot. For some couples, having a baby is a joyous event, and it can bring out the best in the relationship. For others, it can shake the relationship to its core. A woman’s partner may experience negative feelings about the pregnancy, ranging from financial stress, to anger or jealousy, to feeling stuck. This is especially true of unplanned pregnancies. The bestselling pregnancy book in the U.S., What to Expect When You’re Expecting, devotes a few pages to the issue of domestic violence in pregnancy. The numbers we found are very surprising.

  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of death among pregnant women, killing more often than pregnancy complications or car crashes.1
  • Nearly 20% of women experience violence at the hands of their partners during pregnancy. 1
  • 40% of domestic violence assaults begin during a woman’s first pregnancy.2
  • Domestic abuse significantly raises the risk to both mother and baby, including hemorrhaging, uterine rupture, poor nutrition, poor prenatal care, substance abuse, stillbirth or miscarriage.1
  • Babies born into a physically abusive household easily become victims of direct violence themselves — up to 60% of men who abuse their partners also abuse their children.3

What does this mean? It means the help you give through your support of Shepherd’s Gate is vital for these vulnerable women and their small children. We are unique in that we provide facilities that accommodate both mothers and children, which makes a huge difference for these families. They are often scared and traumatized, and being able to be together is a large part of being able to heal. Please pray with us for the women and children who come to Shepherd’s Gate escaping domestic violence. We are also always in need of baby items. Check out our current needs lists to find out how you can help. If you like, feel free to share a verse or encouragement for our women below in the comments section. As always, thanks for being a true friend to the wonderful women and children at Shepherd’s Gate!

Carla McRee Associate Director, Shepherd’s Gate

1 Source: What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Heidi Murkoff 2 Source: American Pregnancy Association Website 3 Source: Your Pregnancy, Glade B. Curtis, M.D.

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