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“Babies don’t stop being born for a war. Periods don’t stop for a war,” Caroline Hickson, the European regional director of the International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF), told Insider.

As the war wages in Ukraine with no end in sight and Russian forces indiscriminately bomb its cities and towns, the UN estimates that 80,000 women will give birth in Ukraine over the next three months.

Women are giving birth “in great shock,” said Dr. Galyna Maistruk, a women’s health and family planning doctor, who lives in Kyiv, but has now fled the embattled city to be with family.

Dr. Maistruk said: “We need supplies…not just sanctions. I know it is possible to transfer money, but sorry, we can’t use this money because pharmacies are empty.

“We need some very serious government from Europe to organize a system of shipping, logistics, and transfer of emergency kits, which include medications, equipment, and also food for the population.”

She told Insider that prenatal centers are being bombed across the country, including Mariupol, Kharkiv, and Zhytomyr, The Independent reports.

“I can’t imagine it, even in bad dreams,” said Dr. Maistruk.

Dmytro Govseyev, head of a Kyiv maternity hospital, told Reuters that the majority of his team have been in the hospital since the start of the war.

“The only difference is that labor that normally takes about 10, 15 hours starts and then there may be an air raid alert and the women need to move to the shelter.”

Sexual based violence in a war, the need for abortions and contraception

Catherine Russell, the Executive Director of the UNICEF, said in a statement that “thousands of additional families will be forcibly displaced, dramatically escalating the scale of the already dire humanitarian situation, and increasing the risk of sexual violence and exploitation.”

Julie Taft, the Humanitarian Director at International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) who is running a Ukraine fundraising appeal told Insider: “We often don’t have hard data [about Ukraine]we do know that that that that women and girls will be experiencing increased violence and that will look like rape, in some instances.”

She added that IPPF is working to ensure access to clinical post-rape services that involve treatment for any physical harm and some emergency contraception access, cares for sexually transmitted infections, and post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV.

“We know that this is absolutely an enhanced risk for women during this time. They are separated from family and loved ones. They’re in makeshift shelters. They’re exposed to the elements, often staying in bunkers with strangers in different places, and [in these situations,] the fabric of their community support starts to break down,” said Taft.

Vulnerable women escaping Ukraine often seek refuge in countries with less liberal abortion laws, said Caroline Hickson of the IPPF.

“If women are in Poland for any significant amount of time, they will face the same issues as Polish women face, which has a complete ban on abortion,” she said.

So, should a person need an abortion, the first port of call is an attempt to have them receive abortion pills, through a service such as Women on Web, for example, Hickson told Insider.

Giving birth in a bomb shelter

As experts have told Insider, women in Ukraine are forced to give birth in underground bomb shelters, with new life brought into the world to the sound of bomb blasts.

“While I was pregnant I had taken yoga classes, prepared for gentle birth-giving, took courses. It wasn’t like this,” 32-year-old Viktoria, who gave birth on February 25, told The Guardian.

She told the newspaper that every morning, as she holds her newborn son, she “wakes up a bit earlier just to look at him sleep, he looks like a small angel,” while also looking to see if any nearby buildings have been destroyed.

“I hope my son will experience this war only from stories – that he will never, never feel what it’s like in real life. I don’t want him to know real war,” she said.

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