Every year in the UK, an estimated 29,600-66,600 babies are born to mothers who suffer domestic abuse.
Between 2019-2020, approximately 8,106 British babies were born to women living in women's shelters and refuges.
In modern Britain, this is shocking.
Statistics show that pregnant women suffering domestic abuse are 2.3 times as likely to give birth to premature babies and 2.5 times more likely to have babies with a low birth weight. Statistics show these babies have a higher chance of experiencing developmental delays and physical problems.
Research also shows that the majority of women in abusive relationships are too scared to leave the relationship,resulting in a high number of babies born into abusive households. We also know that babies born into abusive families are at risk of suffering abuse by extension, witnessing and experiencing trauma and suffering chronic stress.
Domestic abuse can directly affect unborn babies too. A mother under extreme stress and experiencing bouts of fear, trauma and pain, often doesn't have the resources to provide the same level of care to her unborn baby. In the womb, babies can suffer indirectly from the domestic abuse their mother is subjected to, through physical or sexual trauma, increased stress, inadequate nutrition and poor prenatal care. One study found a higher likelihood of a pregnant women suffering domestic abuse to use alcohol or drugs to cope with the trauma.
All babies born to women suffering domestic abuse are highly vulnerable.
Chronic stress transferred from mother to baby, combined with violence and neglect from abusive fathers contribute to a dangerously high risk of severe physical and developmental delays in babies born into abusive households. Long-term stress in babies causes dangerously high levels of cortisol in baby’s bloodstream. Elevated cortisol levels in pregnancy is a risk factor for early miscarriage, pre-eclampisa, fetal growth problems, premature birth and postnatal depression.
Even when a new or expectant mother leaves the abusive relationship, her baby remains highly vulnerable. Mothers in refuges and shelters still need considerable support to care for their babies following periods of intense stress, pressure and uncertainty. New mothers in refuge are overwhelmed with processing the trauma they have experienced and often don't have access to the resources they need to provide for their babies needs, emotionally and psychologically.
We're fortunate enough to live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Britain is also one of the most advanced academically, scientifically and technologically. Yet, domestic abuse is still rife in our communities and thousands of babies are born into abusive households and to mothers who have fled the toxic environment of their abusive home to give birth while living in shelters. We want to change that.
At The aidie Trust, we're committed to supporting new and expectant mothers to limit the impact of trauma. Supporting mothers in refuge to help care for and protect their vulnerable babies, we're passionate about babies receiving nurturing care from the very start..
By raising awareness & conducting research, we work to improve understanding of the impact of domestic abuse on unborn babies and infants. Conducting and sharing research with new & expectant mothers to understand these impacts, we support them to limit the effects of trauma on babies' development, Psychological & emotional well being.
Through our sister company aidie London, we donate essential baby items to new & expectant mothers in refuge and women's shelters across the UK. From blankets to award-winning babygrows, by ensuring babies have the essentials they need during periods of difficulty & trauma, we can work together to give them the best possible start.
Through our giving partners, we provide essential care packs and grants to new and expectant mothers in refuges and shelters across the UK, helping them to protect their babies. Supporting women who've fled domestic abuse, we help to ensure their babies are safe and supported during the uncertain & stressful period that follows.
With the support of your generous donations and those of our sister company aidie London, we provide grants, baby essentials and care packs for new and expectant mothers in refuges and women’s shelters in Britain. We help to support babies’ cognitive, neurological and emotional development by helping new mothers in refuge to understand the impact of trauma on these developing aspects of their babies. Our award-winning books, magazine, blog and multi award-winning products, specifically designed by experts to enhance neurological development and cognitive function in babies, all help to provide support to vulnerable babies born into traumatic situations.
As experts in infant developmental Psychology, we understand the importance of babies’ early development, their environment, the care they receive and the bonds they build with caregivers, in shaping their early development. We also understand the impact of trauma through exposure to abuse and violence in the home. We work alongside women’s shelters in the UK to help deliver support for new & expectant mothers who have fled domestic abuse, to meet our goal of protecting vulnerable babies.
Please note, if you are currently experiencing domestic abuse and need support to leave your home, please contact Women’s Aid, Refuge or the Domestic Abuse Helpline. We’re unable to help advise women to leave abusive relationships. Protect your privacy by clearing your browser history – no one needs to know you are seeking our services – if you're not yet in a safe place. If you have concerns that someone may see that you've been to our website, clearing your browser history may protect your privacy. If you're in immediate danger, cal 999.
What exactly do we do?
Women fleeing domestic abuse are highly stressed, often fearful and usually experiencing financial difficulties. Those with babies have the added pressure of navigating parenthood during this period of trauma and uncertainty. At The Aidie Trust, we help new and expectant mothers to understand how their babies develop and work to try and limit the impact of trauma on their babies’ development. The products we provide through our donations scheme via aidie London helps to maintain stability, comfort and safety while contributing to vulnerable babies’ well being by providing them with basic essentials. We continue to fund research into the impact of trauma on early development and to fund our care packs, while our grants help new and expectant mothers in refuge to buy the big essentials like prams and car seats when leaving refuge, getting them back on their feet.
What difference does this make?
The sooner a vulnerable baby experiences stability in the home and in their relationship with mum, the less impact toxic stress has on their developing brain and body. Chronic stress and repeated exposure to instability and trauma, causes dangerously high levels of cortisol to be released into baby’s bloodstream. Over long periods, this can lead to the formation of maladaptive brain networks triggering behavioural and neurodevelopmental issues in childhood.
By understanding how to mitigate the effects of exposure to trauma, the mothers we support can prevent this outcome by offering baby a stable, loving environment with consistent love and a strong bond with baby.
Studies show a mother experiencing acute stress can transfer the stress to her baby when she holds him, and baby will have the same physiological stress response as mum, but as long as she doesn't hold him, baby won’t absorb her stress. Through our care packs and support, we share information like this, essential for helping new mothers to understand the impact of their well being and environment on baby, enabling her to provide more consistent, supportive care for baby.
Women's Aid UK - womensaid.org.uk
Refuge - refuge.org.uk
Freephone 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline - 0808 2000 247
UK Government Advice - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-abuse-how-to-get-help
NHS Pregnancy & Baby Advice - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/
Free Legal Advice Women - https://rightsofwomen.org.uk/get-advice/
Support Your Baby's Development - aidielondon.com
White Ribbon - whiteribbon.org.uk
Abuse Recovery Programme - melanietoniaevans.com
If you are in imminent danger, call 999
100% of donations go directly towards providing essential support, products and services for vulnerable babies in women's shelters across Britain.