June 13th, 2024

Birth in bomb shelters: Ukrainian midwives look to Canada for training

By The Canadian Press on February 20, 2023.

Olena Boiko and her husband Volodymyr take their 10-month-old son Yaroslav for a walk in the city centre of Lviv, Ukraine on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023. Yaroslav was born in the bomb shelter of the hospital in Lviv a few months after the Russian invasion. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Laura Osman

YASENYTSIA-ZAMKOVA, Ukraine – An Ottawa midwife is leading the charge to legally allow Ukrainian midwives to help deliver babies in bomb shelters as mothers avoid hospitals and air raids.

Betty-Anne Daviss has travelled to Ukraine several times since the war began to train her Ukrainian counterparts to support women in labour who can’t, or won’t, go to the hospital.

Midwives are regulated in Ukraine, but only in hospitals, and they are not licensed to attend home births.

But when the Russian invasion began last year, some pregnant mothers were unable to leave their basements because of missile fire, or feared the hospital would be targeted.

At their first official training session put on by a newly formed association of Ukrainian midwives, Daviss explained how to deliver babies outside of the hospital, as well as how the practice is regulated in Canada.

Daviss says the war offers an opportunity to change policy in Ukraine to give women more choice about where and how they want to birth their children, even after the war is over.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 20, 2023.

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