NCT is concerned about the impact that domestic abuse has upon the health and well-being of women, children and families. During pregnancy and after the birth of a baby, women are particularly vulnerable to domestic abuse, as it is common for abuse to begin or escalate at this time.
Domestic abuse causes physical and psychological trauma, and is sometimes fatal. During pregnancy, domestic abuse is associated with increased risk of miscarriage, prematurity, low birth weight, stillbirth and mental health problems. Risks of poor health outcomes for women and babies are increased further because women who experience abuse face barriers to accessing regular antenatal care.
Domestic abuse is a major public health concern. Health professionals working with families during pregnancy and the postnatal period are in an ideal position to identify and offer support to women affected by abuse. The role that NCT believes the health sector should play in responding to domestic abuse is outlined in an NCT policy briefing on domestic abuse. Additionally, NCT has an internal policy and good practice guidance on domestic abuse to inform the work of NCT specialist workers and volunteers.
Domestic violence and abuse is a complex issue that needs sensitive handling by a range of health and social care professionals. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence published new guidance in March 2014. Domestic violence and abuse: how health services, social care and the organisations they work with can respond effectively. NICE Public Health Guidance 50.