A Ukrainian mother has told how she was forced to give birth by candlelight at home with no doctors as bombs raged outside her besieged flat near Kyiv.
Anna Tymchenko, 21, was blocked from going to hospital by a Russian tank column while a gynaecologist trying to get to her was turned around by a patrol.
With all the electricity cut off, her husband Volodymyr asked two neighbours to help to deliver the baby in their dark, freezing cold apartment.
Ukraine war: A baby born under bombardment in Bucha. Anna Tymchenko was scared. She had been in labour for hours but her hometown was being bombed and her apartment was shaking. She and her husband were trapped with no electricity, running water or doctor. https://t.co/3zJM48I4RA
— Bob K 🇺🇸 (@EnsPulver1958) March 15, 2022
It comes as incredible photos show another new Ukrainian mother, named only as Aleina, giving birth to her first child in a hospital basement in Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine. The Black Sea town is under heavy bombardment. Of the 49 women who have given birth at its maternity hospital since the invasion begun, almost half have had to do so in the basement.
Photos show Aleina comforted by her husband with their newborn baby, Snizhana, in the makeshift labour ward on March 14.
Talking through her own ordeal, Anna said: ‘I never imagined that I would give birth in such conditions.
‘It was surreal. It was my first child and I didn’t know anything.’
Anna, her husband and brother had been hiding in the basement of their block of flats in Bucha, 30km northwest of Kyiv. The small town has seen some of the fiercest fighting with whole streets reduced to rubble by relentless shelling.
Bombs cut off their electricity and plunged their hiding place into darkness where they struggled to stay warm as temperatures plummeted. As her due date approached, Anna and Volodymyr tried to flee by car but were turned around after being warned that a column of Russian military vehicles was coming their way.
‘We then decided to stay in the apartment,’ Anna said. ‘I preferred to give birth at home and not in a dusty basement. I had difficulty breathing, my lungs hurt.’
Anna and Volodymyr realised their neighbours Viktoria Zabrodskaya and Irina Yazova were their only hope. They managed to contact a gynaecologist who agreed to come, but he never got there as a Russian patrol stopped him and broke his phone.
Though Irina has some medical experience, neither of them had ever delivered a baby and feared for the worst.
The women had only light from candles and freezing cold water from bottles as Anna went into labour on March 7 while her apartment shook from the impact of bombs nearby.
Giving birth in #Ukraine when Russian shells are falling. Anna Tymchenko was scared. She’d been in labour for hours but her hometown was being bombed & her apartment was shaking. She & her husband were trapped with no electricity, running water or doctor. https://t.co/11UunzGViD
— Glasnost Gone (@GlasnostGone) March 15, 2022
‘When the baby’s head came out, we got scared,’ Viktoria, 49, said. ‘She was blue and we didn’t know what to do.
‘Then Irina gently turned the baby’s head and she came out. She didn’t cry at first – we started hitting her, and then she cried and we all cheered.’ Volodymyr broke down in tears as Alisa was delivered on March 8 – International Women’s Day.
Two days later an evacuation corridor was agreed for Bucha and the family fled to Kyiv.
‘On the way we saw horrible scenes,’ Anna said. ‘I never thought that I would see such things in real life – only in movies. There were dead bodies lying on the road.’