NEW YORK, New York — As the conflict in Ukraine rages on, displaced pregnant women have had to take emergency shelter throughout the country, often without the proper medical supplies to safely deliver their newborns. Baby Lifeline, a charity based in the United Kingdom, is doing its part to support maternal care in Ukraine. As of May 2022, it coordinated the donation of its outpatient maternity birth bags containing vital medical and newborn supplies to various Ukrainian clinics serving pregnant women while aiding in the safe delivery of a newborn near Kharkiv.
Baby Lifeline’s Ukrainian Appeal
Baby Lifeline sent its first bag to Ukraine in March 2022, with the support of a network of civilian volunteers and drivers who delivered 39 maternity bags to the Isida clinic in western Kyiv. The clinic had to move medical staff and its patients underground during the outbreak of the war due to the fighting in the region.
From the Isida clinic, many of the bags have continued on to other medical centers in need of supplies, such as Kharkiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, Lozova and Irpin which are areas that Baby Lifeline specifically identified were receiving less aid than many western regions in the country.
So far, Baby Lifeline’s maternity bags have aided in several births, including one just outside of Kharkiv. Volunteers were transporting maternity bags from the Isida clinic to its next destination when the drivers got an alert of a woman in labor nearby that needed medical supplies. They donated one of the bags and later received a call that day that the baby, named Marichka, was safely delivered.
The funding and organization of these deliveries are a part of the charity’s campaign to support maternal care in Ukraine, aiming to donate more maternity birth bags and medical supplies throughout the country. The charity has continued to coordinate further donations across the country, including its most recent shipment to a hospital in Zaporizhzhia that is serving evacuees from Mariupol.
The Mother and Baby Charity: Creating the Maternity Bags
Established in 1981 by founder Judy Ledger, Baby Lifeline began its journey with the aim of promoting education and training for those working in maternal care. Today, the charity primarily serves midwives throughout the United Kingdom, providing specialist pieces of training on a variety of topics from cultural safety to perinatal mental health, to CTG (cardiotocography) training.
Baby Lifeline made the outpatient maternity bags for midwives across the United Kingdom to use for home births. It designed the bags with the guidance of midwives, OB/GYNs and paramedics and contain a variety of medical supplies for safe delivery and post-natal care.
Each bag contains sections for IV fluids, adult and neonatal resuscitation equipment, labor and suturing section, supplies for catheterization and cord prolapse and a section solely for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and disposal.
Baby Lifeline has also worked with Ukrainian medical agencies and physicians to specially tailor the bag to the needs of the country’s patients and translated the bags’ instructional materials to Ukrainian and Russian with the help of volunteer translators.
Supporting Maternal Care in Ukraine
Resources similar to these maternity birth bags have become vital health care supplements in a time when pregnant Ukrainian women and medical centers do not have guaranteed access to the medical supplies they need for delivery or safety from the fighting in their country.
Since the beginning of the war with Russia, there have been multiple instances of hospitals and maternity wards across the country that have come under fire, requiring medical staff and patients to evacuate. In March 2022, a maternity ward in Mariupol made headlines after Russian forces hit it with an airstrike that resulted in the death of a pregnant woman and her baby.
Baby Lifeline’s perseverance to continue coordinating more deliveries to pregnant women in need highlights the efforts of international and local volunteers alike to aid those displaced by the conflict in Ukraine.
– June Noyes