Every year, Mother’s Day is an opportunity for us to celebrate the inspiring selflessness that we see in mothers across the world. These loving acts know no condition, time limit or hesitation - we are immensely thankful for everything that our mothers have done and continue to do for us. And Mother’s Day is a fantastic chance to pause, reflect and celebrate all mums, as they deserve to be.
But this year, we wanted to shine a spotlight on the situation in Ukraine and the unimaginable challenges that mums who live there are facing. This Mother’s Day our hearts and minds are with Ukrainian mothers giving birth in bunkers, shelters, and metro stations with new life brought into the world to the sound of bomb blasts.
Ukrainian mothers are in the heart of war. It’s more important now than ever for you to hear their stories and offer meaningful support. By learning more about the current situation, you can help Ukrainian mums and their families in the ways that matter most.
What is happening right now?
As we all know, the world has been shocked and horrified to see Russian forces invade Ukraine.
For the Ukrainian population - ordinary people, children, grandmothers and pregnant women - this is a war that has uprooted every element of their lives. Now, people are fleeing their homes with just the clothes on their back, having to abandon everything they know. Or, for people that cannot leave the country, they have to keep surviving and protecting their loved ones.
For many women, this means having to give birth in the middle of the war, often in bunkers or ruins, trying to comfort their children when they don’t know where their partners or brothers are, and living underground with limited supplies, facing an unknown future.
While it is almost impossible for us to understand what these women are going through, it is vital that we learn what is happening in Ukraine. That way, we can find the best way to help them.
So, with that aim, we wanted to share the stories of three Ukrainian mothers; Mariia, Viktoria and Mariana. These are the birth stories you need to hear right now.
The United Nations recently shared the story of Mariia Shostak, a 25-year-old woman living in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv a week ago.
Mariia has described the harrowing conditions she endured, bringing a new life into a world of sudden and extreme danger.
"I felt fear, fatigue, and pain. The day after surgery, I went up to the maternity ward and back down to the basement several times a day. Again and again, the air raid siren sounded."
Mariia needed a C-section but because of the intense pain afterwards, she was unable to move to the basement during the evacuation that followed. During that time, she remembers being completely disconnected from the outside world which, as she describes, was the only time she forgot about the war.
This is just one story of the hundreds of babies being born in Ukraine every day.
It's hard to imagine giving birth in bunkers without sufficient support from specialised equipment and medical staff. Viktoria went into labour on the second day of the war, and her experience was unimaginable.
On the way to the hospital, she heard the sound of sirens nearby and was terrified by the empty Kyiv. "It was scary, like a movie" - Viktoria recalled.
At first, she was welcomed to a comfortable and colourful room to prepare for the labour. Then the siren sounded and became so loud that the doctor decided to move to the bomb shelter.
(Image by The Guardian)
Nothing was like what she expected for the delivery - could she hardly think of giving birth in an old wet building built in the Soviet era, in the same room with other 50 people. There was no medical technology, just a gynaecological chair! And the only thing that separated her from others was a shower curtain.
Then her waters broke. The doctor decided to get the baby out right away because it was too dangerous to wait. At that moment, Viktoria didn't feel the fear anymore.
"The only thing on my mind was holding my son and ending the pain."
When she first met her baby son Fedor, mystical feelings, "love and pure happiness" filled her heart. Every morning, she wakes up a bit earlier to look at him sleeping, and see whether the buildings around her have been destroyed. Viktoria hopes her son will never know the reality of the war she is experiencing.
Viktoria is one among hundreds of other mums giving birth in the middle of the war with extreme fear, fatigue, and a serious deficiency in nursing essentials.
News outlets all over the world have followed the story of Mariana Vishegirskaya, who was a pregnant patient in a Mariupol hospital and maternity ward, which was bombed by Russian air forces.
While Mariana was heavily pregnant, the hospital was attacked by bombs. Mariana and the other women and newborns in the hospital had to be evacuated. Photographs shared all over the world showed Mariana bleeding and injured, leaving the hospital in her pyjamas, carrying a blanket and a bag.
Just one day later, Mariana gave birth to her baby girl, Veronika.
Sadly, not all of the women in this hospital survived the bombing. What’s more, this is one of 26 Russian attacks on Ukrainian healthcare facilities, to date.
What you can do to help
The world has been united in its support for Ukraine. In everything from big brands to celebrities, and TV programmes to individual campaigners, people have been doing all that they can to raise money and share much-needed supplies.
Humanitarian aid is urgently needed to help the 80,000 babies that will be born in war-torn Ukraine in the next 3 months.
Thankfully, there are a huge number of fantastic charitable initiatives out there, which will help you to send your support to where it’s needed most.
Verified charities taking donations for Ukraine include:
- UN Women
Alternatively, you could also find your nearest donation point, which is collecting supplies to send to Ukraine.
The items that are most urgently needed in Ukraine, which you can donate at these points, include:
- Medication, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and cold & flu medication
- First-aid kits
- Medical supplies, such as bandages and plasters
- Roll mats and sleeping bags
- Blankets, both for adults and for children
- Baby food
- Tampons and sanitary pads
- Warm clothing
- Baby clothes
- High-protein snacks
- Non-perishable foods
- Breast milk pumps and feeding bottles
- Hats and gloves
While government representatives and charities have said that financial donations are preferred over physical items, we urge you to just donate what you can afford. And, if money is tight and you can’t make a financial donation at this time, then physical donations or just sharing these stories are still a huge help.
Physical donations can be household items (which are clean and in good condition) that you can part with, such as spare warm clothes, unopened medical supplies, or canned foods. Remember, every contribution will help the global effort.
To do our small bit towards the global effort, Lola&Lykke is donating 10% of the profits of our Mother's Day sale directly to Save the Children. In addition, together with our partners we’re sending as many essential mother and baby items as we can to the people of Ukraine.
Don't forget to look after yourself, too
On a final, but equally important note, please make sure that you are also taking care of your own mental health. Even if you are not directly affected by the conflict, this tumultuous situation can create additional anxiety, and your emotional response may often feel overwhelming.
If you are struggling to manage feelings of distress and anxiety, it’s so important that you take time away from the news.
We understand how hard it can be to feel helpless in the face of everything that is going on. But, don’t lose sight of the important contribution that you are making by staying informed and finding the most effective ways to direct your support.
We may not be world leaders or multi-millionaires but, as ordinary people, we can do our bit to champion the rights and needs of fellow mums across the world.
This Mother’s Day, we will be thinking of all Ukrainian mums who are facing fear, loss and uncertainty. Our hearts go out to them and their families.
And, in celebration of Mother’s Day, we would like to end on this wonderful quote from Jamie McGuide. For us, it encapsulates all of the bravery and strength that the world is seeing demonstrated by the people of Ukraine.
“A mother’s love is everything. It is what brings a child into this world. It is what moulds their entire being. When a mother sees her child in danger, she is literally capable of anything.
Mothers have lifted cars off of their children and destroyed entire dynasties. A mother’s love is the strongest energy known to man.”
- Jamie McGuire
References and further reading:
The Guardian - Giving birth in a bunker in Kyiv: ‘I said to him you’re a new Ukrainian’
Daily Mail - Miracle of Kyiv: Woman, 23, gives birth to daughter as she shelters with terrified Ukrainians in underground metro station during Russian invasion
ABC News - Woman in Ukraine gives birth after surviving Russian airstrike on hospital
Peanut - How can I help women and children in Ukraine?
GOV, UK website - Ukraine: what you can do to help
Global Citizen - 28 ways that you can help Ukraine
The Big Issue - The best things to donate to people in Ukraine