Women's Aid Maternity Project


Based on Women’s Aid frontline experience with  both survivors and health care professionals, domestic abuse and pregnancy/maternity care research and in line with the Maternity Strategy we wanted to offer a more dedicated and sustainable resource to support the midwives, doctors, nurses and social workers who care for pregnant women who may be experiencing domestic abuse.

What Research and Women’s Aid experience tells us:

  • Women are in need of specialised domestic violence and abuse support during pregnancy in particular as it is a vulnerable and high risk time.
  • Domestic abuse specialised support needs to be more visible and accessible to pregnant women accessing maternity hospitals. Co-location and partnering with health settings improves this accessibility for women.
  • Midwives and other hospital staff require ongoing education and support to feel confident and competent to routinely enquire about domestic abuse.
  • Maternity care staff in maternity hospitals are also survivors of domestic abuse and hospitals are their employers and both need to be supported in this capacity around domestic violence and abuse.
  • Furthermore, Ireland’s first Maternity Strategy 2016-2026  recommends that maternity care staff (Midwives, obstetricians and GPs) ask women about domestic abuse during pregnancy and postnatal visits. That such enquiry is supported by appropriate training for frontline staff to ensure that all such enquiries and disclosures are handled correctly, and that referral pathways and support options for women who disclose domestic abuse  are clear.

Project Mission

To enhance the Maternity Hospitals & Units response to victims/survivors of domestic violence and abuse through a jointly created, delivered and operated Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) Training, Awareness and Referral Programme

Working in Partnership

Women’s Aid and four of Ireland’s leading maternity hospitals are working together to support women subjected by domestic violence and abuse including coercive control with a three-year pilot programme. The partnership is between Women’s Aid and the three Dublin Maternity hospitals (The Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, The Rotunda Hospital, the National Maternity Hospital and Ireland South Women and Infants Directorate (primarily Cork University Maternity Hospital).

The three-year pilot project will enhance the maternity hospitals response to domestic abuse through a jointly created training, awareness and referral programme. 

A dedicated Women’s Aid domestic abuse support worker is assigned linked to the three Dublin maternity hospitals and receives referrals directly from these hospitals.

16 Days of Action 2021 Public Awareness campaign 

We launched an awareness campaign during the 16 days of Activism 2021 which involved the four leading hospitals and their regional counterparts and created unique pregnancy and domestic abuse resources. Please feel free to download, print, use and share these resources.

Webinar: Pregnancy and Domestic Abuse - Prevalence, Impacts & Responses

On 30th November 2021, Women's Aid held a webinar on the issue of domestic abuse during pregnancy.

Speakers included:

  • Sarah Benson, CEO of Women's Aid who spoke about the 3 year maternity project Women's Aid has started with four of Ireland's leading maternity hospitals.
  • Dr. Lorna Jane O'Doherty, Associate Professor Institute for Health and Wellbeing Coventry University who presented on Global perspectives on prevalence, impacts and intervention for domestic abuse during pregnancy.
  • Siobán ‘O Brien Green, PhD, Trinity College Dublin, who spoke about 'Pregnancy & Domestic Violence: findings from recent Irish research'.
  • Gillian Dennehy, Maternity Project Co-ordinator, Women's Aid, outlined the Pregnancy and Domestic Violence public awareness campaign taking place during the International 16 Days of Action.
  • Dr. Sally Prezaro joined the panel to discuss her research.

This event marked the launch of the Women's Aid Maternity Project with four of Ireland's leading maternity hospitals to enhance the Maternity Hospitals & Units response to victims/survivors of domestic violence and abuse through a jointly created, delivered and operated Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) Training, Awareness and Referral Programme.  


If you would like any more  information about this project please do not hesitate to get in touch with Gillian Dennehy, Maternity Project Coordinator  at Gillian.dennehy@womensaid.ie


This work was made possible through the support of KKR Covid Response Fund, a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors