Ukraine: Women giving birth in basements and bunkers

World Thursday 10/March/2022 09:41 AM
By: DW
Ukraine: Women giving birth in basements and bunkers
Pregnant woman and young mothers are particularly vulnerable in war

It was late February when Kyiv local Svetlana Lukash started going into labor. Despite air raid sirens blaring, and a city-wide curfew, Lukash was taken to a maternity ward. The pregnant woman, in danger of experiencing complications during childbirth, did not want to take any unnecessary risks.

"You cannot give birth at home, on your sofa, when there could be complications," she told DW. "Once we arrived at hospital, we were taken to the basement."

Russia's war on Ukraine has seen it launch scores of rockets and drop countless bombs on cities, forcing pregnant woman to seek shelter and give birth in hospital basements. While unsuited for such purposes, such places are much safer than delivery rooms that could be hit by Russian fire.

Destroyed maternity wards

Many Ukrainian hospitals have been damaged or destroyed since Russia launched its assault on the country. One Russian attack on March 2 laid waste to Zhytomyr maternity ward. Not long after that, hospitals in Mariupol and Vasylivka were also attacked and destroyed. Three locals were killed in that last attack.

"The world must know that Ukrainian women are giving birth while under attack, we are calling for them to be evacuated," former Ukrainian parliamentarian Anna Hopko told DW. Her friend recently had a baby while sheltering in an air raid bunker.

Hopko is calling for the Red Cross and other relief agencies to come to the country and tend to Ukrainians. But for that to happen, Russia must halt its assault on Ukraine's cities. "We need a no-fly-zone over Ukraine," stresses Hopko.