Born in war: Kyiv Maternity Hospital under siege

A couple with their newborn baby take shelter in the basement of a perinatal center as air raid sirens sound amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv
A couple with their newborn baby take shelter in the basement of a perinatal center as the sirens of an air raid are sounded amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 2. 2022. REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko

March 2, 2022

By Mehmet Emin Caliskan

KYIV (Reuters) – Sitting on a makeshift bed set up along a gloomy underground passage, mother-to-be Alena Shinkar reads a book to try and stay calm.

Ukrainians have been at the Kyiv maternity hospital since before the Russian invasion began on 24 February waiting to give birth, but with the capital city under siege by rockets and rockets, nerves Hers is tense.

She told Reuters in English: “I shouldn’t be stressed right now so I’m trying to cool myself down, but of course it sucks.

“We are living in real hell. I never imagined that something like this could happen in the 21st century.”

She said she had seen women who had just given birth by caesarean section rushing from the rooms to the underground passage to protect them from bombardment, with no time to rest in between.

Elsewhere in the facility, young mothers are treated by nurses and infants are rested in an incubator or lying in their parents’ arms, rocked back and forth.

Yula, who gave birth to a son, Mark, on February 28, praised hospital staff for waging what Russia described as a “special military operation”.

“We’re safe here, the best employees in the world, the best people work here and we’re so proud of them.”

Dmytro Govseyev, head of the maternity hospital, said most of his team had not left the facility since the invasion began a week ago.

“About 70% of the staff are here permanently, we take turns working,” he said. “The only difference is that labor usually takes about 10, 15 hours to begin and then there may be air strikes and women needing to move to shelters.”

Back underground, Shinkar recalled the moment the attack on Kyiv began.

“I woke up on the 24th of February at 5am after the hit (missile attack), I heard explosions and women screaming. Battle begins. And I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a nightmare, but how is it. This is how we live.”

“Hopefully this person will find peace,” she added, rubbing her belly.

(Written by Mike Collett-White; Edited by Aurora Ellis) Born in war: Kyiv Maternity Hospital under siege

Bobby Allyn

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