In the last specialist obstetrics ward still under Ukrainian control in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the windows are closed with sandbags.
Rooms used for births at the Perinatal Center in Pokrovsk follow the two-wall rule, whereby the safest parts of the building are separated from the outside by at least two walls.
Dr Ivan Tsyganok, head of the centre, said: “Sometimes we have to deliver babies during shelling. “In labor is an unstoppable process.”
The center, about 40km (25 miles) from the nearest frontline, offers a glimpse into the suffering war is inflicting on pregnant women – their worries about where they might give birth, their worries and concerns. fear of the hospital being attacked and what doctors have observed is an increased rate of premature labor.
Tsyganok fears the stress of living under the Russian onslaught has led to a spike in premature births, a fear that emerged in the initial data from the center and observed elsewhere in the country. conflict area.
Katya Buravtsova’s second child, Illiusha, was among those born prematurely, born at 28 weeks. Tsyganok said he would have had no “chance of survival” without the center.
According to figures Tsyganok shared with Reuters news agency, in 2021, about 12% of the more than 1,000 babies born at the center will be born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. This rate – compared with the Ukraine-wide average of about 9%, according to the WHO – is typical for previous years in the center, he said.
Since the February 24 invasion, 19 out of 115 babies born at the hospital were premature, a rate of about 16.5%, he said. The total number of births is low because many women have fled, he added.
Tsyganok says sandbags in windows won’t save the clinic and its patients in the event of a direct impact, like the one at a Mariupol hospital in March.
There, at least three people were killed when a Russian missile hit the hospital, sending expectant mothers, some with shrapnel wounds, to flee in hospital gowns, according to authorities. Ukraine and the media photographed.
The Russian Defense Ministry denied the hospital bombing and accused Ukraine of orchestrating the incident.
With the Mariupol center gone and another in nearby Kramatorsk closed, the Pokrovsk facility now serves the remaining population of the Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk region, some 340,000, according to the region’s governor.
Among those studying at the center in Pokrovsk is 16-year-old Viktoriya Sokolovska, who is pregnant with a baby girl.
“The shooting is affecting my nerves,” she said late last month, 36 weeks pregnant and trying her best to stay calm. She fears “all the anxiety will transfer to the baby.”
Since then, she has given birth to a healthy daughter, Emilia.