Survivor specific tips to make pregnancy less difficult

Pregnancy can create additional fears and issues in survivors of childhood abuse, but these fears can be managed to make pregnancy, birth and early motherhood a little easier. 

How might I feel during pregnancy?

Through our support line it is not uncommon for us to hear from survivors who are feeling worried or uneasy about being pregnant. For survivors specifically, the idea of ‘sharing’ your body and being out of control can be triggering, potentially causing you to experience unusual sensations such as hyper-alertness, extreme anger, or episodes of ‘spacing out’.

Midwife appointments may be particularly challenging due to the physical and intimate nature of the examinations, and you may feel extremely nervous, tense and angry. The thought of giving birth too, can be worrying, as often the parts of your body which are active during the birth process are areas which are extremely sensitive to you and may have been the focus of sexual or physical abuse. It adds to the vulnerability of an already intense time in which the physical and emotional changes can be overwhelming.

We also hear from many women who feel apprehension at the thought of becoming a mother, as they worry that their abuse history might affect their relationship with their child. This is often the case with expectant fathers, too.

All of these are very common responses from survivors, and there are a few things you can do to prepare for your hospital appointments, giving birth, and parenthood.

What can I do to prepare for pregnancy, birth and parenthood?

  • Don’t attend your clinical visits alone. Take a friend or loved one for support.
  • Prepare a list of things you want to ask ahead of your appointments, that way it is easier to leave the appointment feeling reassured and that you have addressed your concerns.
  • Create a birth plan that also addresses how you may feel safer throughout the process, the more comfortable you feel, ultimately the better it will be for your baby.
  • Let your midwives know about your history (only if it feels right to you) so that they can support appropriately and relay the information to your labour ward or home birthing team.
  • Find out where your local breastfeeding support groups are before giving birth.
  • Choose a trustworthy local friend and ask them to be your birth partner.
  • Choose a local friend who is already a mother and has experience in breastfeeding and ask her to be a support person.


You may also benefit from a Doula. A Doula is trained to support you during pregnancy, birth, and in new parenthood. Doulas provide personal and emotional support rather than medical or clinical and will focus on your wellbeing.

Doulas provide information, support and encouragement sensitively and without judgement. They can assist in writing a birth plan and helping expectant mothers to feel grounded and prepared.

You can find more about Doulas at

If you are in financial hardship, voluntary Doula care is provided by ‘Doulas Without Borders’.

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