OBJECTIVE: to examine the relationship between intimate partner violence and other factors associated with the experience of early motherhood. DESIGN: cross sectional secondary data analysis (n=1534) from MOVE: a cluster randomised controlled trial that evaluated a model of enhanced nurse screening and supportive care for abused women. SETTING: Victoria, Australia. PARTICIPANTS: postpartum women attending community based maternal and child health clinics. MEASUREMENTS: survey included the Experience of Motherhood Questionnaire; measures of partner abuse, depression, anxiety, stress and social support. Multivariable robust regression analysis used. FINDINGS: independent of other factors, abused women were more likely to have a poorer mothering experience (Adj b=2.01, 95% CI=0.78, 3.25). Poor mental health, abuse as a child and being born overseas were also associated with a poor experience. Busy mothers who had a multiple birth and those balancing work and study simultaneously had higher experience of motherhood scores, indicating a poorer experience. Social support was protective. KEY CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: exposure to partner violence is adversely associated with early motherhood, independent of other correlates of poor motherhood experience. Greater awareness of factors associated with intimate partner violence and mothering would enable health care professionals and policy makers to improve support for women and children experiencing violence.