Monday, March 27, 2023

Wartime birth in Ukrainian hospital amid air raid sirens

Wartime Birth In Ukrainian Hospital Amid Air Raid Sirens

by Renata Brito and Kara Anna

LVIV, Ukraine ( Associated Press) — The rest of the main maternity hospital in the western city of Lviv, Ukraine, is easy to tell from outside the delivery room. Its outer wall is higher than sand bags.

In the dim basement, where heavily pregnant women have to crouch down to escape water pipes, there’s a delivery table in case the baby arrives amid air raid sirens.

Stress is part of childbirth, but it is not meant to be.

At least 49 attacks have targeted medical facilities in Ukraine since the February 24 Russian invasion, including the March bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol, where a stretcher was expected to carry an injured pregnant woman from the rubble. Associated Press images were seen around the world. , expressing the magnitude of the attack on civilians. The woman and her child later died.

About 200 pregnant women displaced by the Russian invasion since the start of the war have arrived at a hospital in Lviv. More than 100 have given birth, said Maria Malachinska, director of the Lviv State Regional Perinatal Center. They come from some of the communities the world now knows by name: Mariupol, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Kyiv.

“This stress that women have in times of war, it affects a lot and we see a lot of complications,” Malachinska said.

Lilia Myronovich, who heads the delivery department at another hospital, Lviv Municipal Maternity, said she has seen more premature births than usual. “Women are stressed,” she said. “Especially women who come from other districts.”

A Mariupol woman cries all the time at the Lviv State Perinatal Center, traumatized after leaving the besieged city. “They were starving,” said Malachinska. “We’re also helping them with clothes, lamb, because they have nothing to give their kids.”

Outside the director’s window, a new shelter was being dug. It will be big enough to house the necessary incubators for premature babies.

Upstairs, pregnant mother Katerina Galmalova fled to Mykolaiv, a town now occupied by Russian forces, with her husband approaching tanks and sleeping in the hallway between explosions three nights later.

“I had high blood pressure a few days before this news”, she said. “Because you don’t understand what to do next, where to go, where and how to give birth.”

She fled to Mykolaive with just her documents, extra underwear and the clothes she was wearing. She was overwhelmed by the kindness she received in Lviv, where she has no family, she said, and which quickly became a haven for hundreds of thousands of people displaced from more threatened parts of Ukraine.

A siren suddenly sounded until the alert was lifted half an hour later, sending patients and staff to the basement.

“I don’t want babies to be born in war,” said Galmalova, as she waited on her phone while scrolling underground through social media about a woman being forced to give birth in a bunker. got to know. “And I don’t want to give birth in a basement or a bunker. I don’t want any child to be born in such a place.”

Another pregnant mother, Yana Tanakina, fled the capital Kyiv and wants to return. “Life goes on,” said her husband, Oleksandr. “Every war ends. And this too shall pass.” They were so pleasantly surprised by the Lviv maternity hospital that the couple is now considering keeping their next child there as well.

In a bright and quiet room, Natalya Suhotsha smiled at her newborn twins, Zlata and Sofia. She fled Hostomel on the outskirts of Kyiv in the early days of the war, when the Russians began bombing a nearby airport. Her husband gave her five minutes to collect and leave.

She grabbed the baby’s clothes and some more before fleeing to Lviv, where she was born and where her family’s home is.

Now, seeing his daughters, she forgets about the war. She wishes every woman the same pleasant distraction.

“We just talk about beautiful babies,” the 24-year-old said of her conversations with other displaced new moms at the hospital. “We don’t talk about war. Every time you talk about war, you insist.”

His mother, a nurse, had promised to be there for the birth of the twins. But she remained in the hostel as others fled. Natalya said that she hopes to return to her mother soon. His work in real estate also awaits.

“My job was about the future,” she said. “It was for new families. And it’s all crushed. ,

Now it’s time to rebuild, she said.


Associated Press photojournalist Nariman El-Mofty contributed to this report.


Follow Associated Press’s coverage of the war

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