How to Stay Physically, Emotionally, and Financially Safe During Pregnancy
While often portrayed as a magical, happy time, pregnancy — with the associated physical, emotional, social, and financial changes — can be challenging, even with a supportive partner in a healthy relationship. Because an abusive partner may see the unpredictability of pregnancy as an opportunity to increase power and control, if you’re pregnant, it’s important to think about how to stay physically, emotionally, and financially safe during pregnancy.
Your physical safety needs may change as pregnancy progresses; what seems safe at one point may not feel that way a few weeks later. Prenatal care may be a way to maintain your and the baby’s health. It also may be a way to connect with a service provider you can turn to if you are concerned about your safety.
If you need help accessing prenatal care, you may get more information by contacting 211. This local service is available in most communities. You can also sign up for Text4Baby, a free service that sends tips about staying healthy during pregnancy through your child’s first birthday. If you have concerns about not being insured, you may be able to get insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Domestic violence survivors can enroll at healthcare.gov anytime using the Special Enrollment Period (SEP).
Staying safe during pregnancy
During pregnancy, your center of gravity shifts and your joints loosen to allow for easier childbirth. This can make getting around harder. If you live with an abuser, consider mapping the safest routes out of the home or apartment from the rooms where you spend the most time. Try avoiding rooms with weapons, hard surfaces, and areas near stairs. If driving is becoming difficult, consider identifying some safe people to contact if you need transportation. Keeping taxi or bus fare stowed in a packed bag may be another way to get out quickly if needed.
Emotionally safe during pregnancy
Protecting and maintaining your emotional energy during this time is also important and closely linked to your physical safety, as stress can adversely impact your pregnancy. Creating a self-care plan is one way to achieve this. Some people use prenatal yoga, walking in nature, journaling, art, or spending time with loved ones as part of their self-care.
Social connections during pregnancy
Creating social connections with other parents is particularly important during pregnancy. Meetup.com is a website where you can connect with a group of parents expecting children with a due date close to yours.
Other parenting and social media websites may have similar groups to find support and connections. If finding a group online doesn’t fit your needs, you could ask your healthcare provider about classes or programs for expecting parents.
Seeking a counselor’s support may be an additional way to get perspective during this time. The Hotline can provide information about local domestic violence programs that offer counseling and support groups. If you’re looking for counselors specializing in other areas, GoodTherapy is a website that assists in finding a local counselor. It also offers articles and resources on issues that impact emotional well-being, including during pregnancy.
Financially safe during pregnancy
Pregnancy is also a time when financial and legal options shift. Knowing your rights around these issues is the first step to creating a plan to protect yourself and your newborn child. While workplaces may differ in their support for pregnant employees, they must follow specific employment laws.
The Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau has a website where you can review your rights during pregnancy and as a parent. Some state domestic violence coalitions also have dedicated projects that support protecting yourself financially. One great example is the Economic Justice Project of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence called Get Money, Get Safe. This project offers general tips for domestic violence survivors on banking, credit, and other issues.
Knowing your custody options can also be confusing. This is especially true if you have several plans for you and your future child’s safety. WomensLaw offers a wealth of legal information including, custody information and parental kidnapping laws searchable by state.
Safety planning during pregnancy
Safety plans are not one size fits all. Each person has a right to safety and to define how that will look, and these suggestions are not meant to serve as a guarantee or a direction. At The Hotline, you are the foremost expert in your situation. Contact us anytime for safety planning assistance.