Born into war: Pregnant women nervously wait to give birth in converted Kyiv hospital basement


Pregnant Ukrainian women in Kyiv were today nervously waiting to give birth in the basement of a perinatal hospital which has been converted into an emergency bomb shelter – as Vladimir Putin’s forces surrounded the capital city.

Nearly a dozen heavily pregnant women and their families sheltered in the basement, where beds were made up on the floor of what appeared to be locker rooms and corridors while their families hunkered down in the dark as they waited for the day’s bombardment to end. 

Groups of up to six women were sharing rooms, and in some cases beds, as they waited to give birth or rested after delivering their babies. At least one room held IV drips and machines to monitor the mothers and newborns’ vital signs. 

Newborns peppered the shelter, many being held tenderly for the first time by parents who must now try to shield them from the war being fought above the ground for the seventh day after Moscow ordered an all out invasion of its neighbour Ukraine.  

Several women seemed on the verge of giving birth today even as Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko warned that Russian forces were ‘getting closer’ to the Ukrainian capital and vowed ‘we will fight’, amid fears it could soon be battered by artillery fire from a 40-mile long death convoy parked nearby. 

By Wednesday morning the convoy’s advance had slowed to a crawl as commanders regrouped and prepared to renew their assault in what is now expected to become an increasingly bloody war of resources with Kyiv’s men facing overwhelming odds.  

Pregnant women lie on the floor of a the basement of a prenatal hospital in Kyiv which has been converted into an emergency bomb shelter following the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week

Pregnant women lie on the floor of a the basement of a prenatal hospital in Kyiv which has been converted into an emergency bomb shelter following the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week

A man talks to his newborn boy Ivan as they take shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre as air raid siren sounds over Kyiv as the Russian invasion of the country enters its seventh day

A man talks to his newborn boy Ivan as they take shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre as air raid siren sounds over Kyiv as the Russian invasion of the country enters its seventh day

Yuri holds his pregnant wife Anna's hand in the basement of a maternity hospital converted into a medical ward as she goes into labour while air raid sirens sound in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday

Yuri holds his pregnant wife Anna’s hand in the basement of a maternity hospital converted into a medical ward as she goes into labour while air raid sirens sound in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday

A woman holds her newborn child in the basement of a maternity hospital converted into a medical ward and used as a bomb shelter during air raid alerts, in Kyiv, Ukraine

A woman holds her newborn child in the basement of a maternity hospital converted into a medical ward and used as a bomb shelter during air raid alerts, in Kyiv, Ukraine

Two heavily pregnant women shelter in the corridor of a basement of a perinatal centre in Kyiv as air raid sirens sound over the capital on Wednesday as Russian troops encircled the city

Two heavily pregnant women shelter in the corridor of a basement of a perinatal centre in Kyiv as air raid sirens sound over the capital on Wednesday as Russian troops encircled the city

A heavily pregnant woman holds her bump while resting on a mattress on the floor of a perinatal centre in Kyiv while air raid sirens warn of incoming shelling in the city

A heavily pregnant woman holds her bump while resting on a mattress on the floor of a perinatal centre in Kyiv while air raid sirens warn of incoming shelling in the city

Pregnant women and their families take shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre as air raid siren sounds are heard amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Pregnant women and their families take shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre as air raid siren sounds are heard amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Nurses help a pregnant woman to take shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre as air raid sirens sound over the capital, Kyiv, on Wednesday

Nurses help a pregnant woman to take shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre as air raid sirens sound over the capital, Kyiv, on Wednesday

Newborns peppered the shelter, many being held tenderly for the first time by parents who must now try to shield them from the war being fought above the ground for the seventh day after Moscow ordered an all out invasion of its neighbour Ukraine

Newborns peppered the shelter, many being held tenderly for the first time by parents who must now try to shield them from the war being fought above the ground for the seventh day after Moscow ordered an all out invasion of its neighbour Ukraine

Doctors and nurses wearing gloves and dressed in medical scrubs seemed to continue to work through the air raid sirens, helping pregnant women and their families into the shelter and onto makeshift beds and benches. 

A male healthcare worker was pictured tearing up, his face in his hands, as he sat down as the air raid sirens sounded over Kyiv on Wednesday as others stoically carried on assisting patients despite the threat. 

Images this morning showed areas of the city damaged in overnight strikes, as attacks resumed on Ukrainian cities elsewhere in the country.  

The Kyiv hospital is one of several across the country that have moved their practice underground and continued to provide car through the invasion, despite the threat of bombs from Russian forces. 

Among them is a hospital in Mariupol, a city on Ukraine’s south coast, which has become a bomb shelter and maternity ward. 

Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that the city had been encircled by Russian forces – as it warned that intelligence showed an increase in Russian air and artillery strikes on populated urban areas over the past two days. 

As fighting raged, the humanitarian situation worsened. Roughly 660,000 people have fled Ukraine, and countless others have taken shelter underground.

The death toll was less clear, with neither Russia nor Ukraine releasing the number of troops lost. The UN human rights office said it has recorded 136 civilian deaths, though the actual toll is surely far higher. 

One senior Western intelligence official estimated that 5,000 Russian soldiers had been captured or killed in the biggest ground war in Europe since World War II.

Many military experts worry that Russia may be shifting tactics. Moscow’s strategy in Chechnya and Syria was to use artillery and air bombardments to pulverize cities and crush fighters’ resolve.

A pregnant women is seen in the hallways of basement floor of a maternity hospital converted to medical ward and used as a shelter in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday

A pregnant women is seen in the hallways of basement floor of a maternity hospital converted to medical ward and used as a shelter in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday

Medical staff and patients, including a boy draped in a Ukrainian flag, take shelter in the basement of a perinatal hospital in Kyiv after air raid sirens sounded on Wednesday

Medical staff and patients, including a boy draped in a Ukrainian flag, take shelter in the basement of a perinatal hospital in Kyiv after air raid sirens sounded on Wednesday

A man with his newborn child takes shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre in Kyiv, hours after the city's mayor Vitali Klitschko warned that Russian forces were 'getting closer' to the Ukrainian capital and vowed 'we will fight'

A man with his newborn child takes shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre in Kyiv, hours after the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko warned that Russian forces were ‘getting closer’ to the Ukrainian capital and vowed ‘we will fight’

A male healthcare worker pictured tearing up, his face in his hands, as he sat down as the air raid sirens sounded over Kyiv on Wednesday

A male healthcare worker pictured tearing up, his face in his hands, as he sat down as the air raid sirens sounded over Kyiv on Wednesday

A man helps his pregnant wife as they take shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre in Kyiv as air raid sirens sound denoting incoming shelling from Russian forces which are stationed outside the city

A man helps his pregnant wife as they take shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre in Kyiv as air raid sirens sound denoting incoming shelling from Russian forces which are stationed outside the city

Patients take shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre in Kyiv as air raid siren sounds are heard , amid fears it could soon be battered by artillery fire from a 40-mile long death convoy parked nearby

Patients take shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre in Kyiv as air raid siren sounds are heard , amid fears it could soon be battered by artillery fire from a 40-mile long death convoy parked nearby

A female healthcare worker checks on one of her patients who has recently given birth in the basement of a perinatal hospital in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv

A female healthcare worker checks on one of her patients who has recently given birth in the basement of a perinatal hospital in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv 

A baby and its mother sleep through air raid sirens in the basement of a perinatal hospital in Kyiv where they have taken refuge after Russian forces invaded Ukraine last week

A baby and its mother sleep through air raid sirens in the basement of a perinatal hospital in Kyiv where they have taken refuge after Russian forces invaded Ukraine last week

Pregnant women whose treatment are underway stay in basement floor of a maternity hospital converted to medical ward as air raid sirens sound over Kyiv on Wednesday

Pregnant women whose treatment are underway stay in basement floor of a maternity hospital converted to medical ward as air raid sirens sound over Kyiv on Wednesday

A woman holds her newborn child in the basement of a maternity hospital converted into a medical ward and used as a bomb shelter during air raid alerts, in Kyiv, Ukraine

A woman holds her newborn child in the basement of a maternity hospital converted into a medical ward and used as a bomb shelter during air raid alerts, in Kyiv, Ukraine

Newborns peppered the shelter, many being held tenderly for the first time by parents who must now try to shield them from the war being fought above the ground for the seventh day after Moscow ordered an all out invasion of its neighbour Ukraine

Newborns peppered the shelter, many being held tenderly for the first time by parents who must now try to shield them from the war being fought above the ground for the seventh day after Moscow ordered an all out invasion of its neighbour Ukraine 

Doctors and nurses wearing gloves and dressed in medical scrubs seemed to continue to work through the air raid sirens, helping pregnant women and their families into the shelter and onto makeshift beds and benches

Doctors and nurses wearing gloves and dressed in medical scrubs seemed to continue to work through the air raid sirens, helping pregnant women and their families into the shelter and onto makeshift beds and benches

Medical staff, women patients whose treatment are underway, stay in basement floor of a maternity hospital converted to medical ward and used as a shelter amid Russian attacks on Kyiv

Medical staff, women patients whose treatment are underway, stay in basement floor of a maternity hospital converted to medical ward and used as a shelter amid Russian attacks on Kyiv

A man with his newborn child takes shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre in Kyiv, hours after the city's mayor Vitali Klitschko warned that Russian forces were 'getting closer' to the Ukrainian capital and vowed 'we will fight'

A man with his newborn child takes shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre in Kyiv, hours after the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko warned that Russian forces were ‘getting closer’ to the Ukrainian capital and vowed ‘we will fight’

Pregnant women lie on the floor of a the basement of a prenatal hospital in Kyiv which has been converted into an emergency bomb shelter following the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week

Pregnant women lie on the floor of a the basement of a prenatal hospital in Kyiv which has been converted into an emergency bomb shelter following the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week

A heavily pregnant woman holds her bump while resting on a mattress on the floor of a perinatal centre in Kyiv while air raid sirens warn of incoming shelling in the city

A heavily pregnant woman holds her bump while resting on a mattress on the floor of a perinatal centre in Kyiv while air raid sirens warn of incoming shelling in the city

Two heavily pregnant women shelter in the corridor of a basement of a perinatal centre in Kyiv as air raid sirens sound over the capital on Wednesday as Russian troops encircled the city

Two heavily pregnant women shelter in the corridor of a basement of a perinatal centre in Kyiv as air raid sirens sound over the capital on Wednesday as Russian troops encircled the city

Children take shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre as air raid siren sounds are heard amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday

Children take shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre as air raid siren sounds are heard amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday

As the seventh day of the war dawned Wednesday, Russia found itself increasingly isolated, beset by the sanctions that have thrown its economy into turmoil and left the country practically friendless, apart from a few nations like China, Belarus and North Korea. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Russia is trying to erase Ukraine and its people as Vladimir Putin’s invasion entered its seventh day today with renewed attacks on all fronts including an expected assault on the city which houses Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

Zelensky, who has become a symbol of Ukrainian defiance and courage since the war began, told his people today that Russians ‘know nothing about our capital. About our history. But they have an order to erase our history. Erase our country. Erase us all.’

The president, unshaven and wearing a military-style khaki T-shirt, said the West’s response was not enough, calling for more international support, including backing Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union. ‘This is no time to be neutral,’ he added.

As he spoke, Ukrainians were barricades to defend the city of Zaporizhzhia – including setting up defences around the reactors of Energodar power plant. Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry, called on generals to bypass the city while warning they could create a ‘new Chernobyl’ if the plant is damaged.

‘Because of Putin’s madness, Europe is again on the brink of a nuclear catastrophe,’ he wrote on Facebook. ‘The city where the largest nuclear power plant in Europe is located is preparing for a battle with the invaders.

‘An accident can happen like at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant or the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Russian generals – think again! Radiation does not know nationalities, does not spare anyone!’

Leave a Reply