Birth & Midwifery in Ukraine
Resources for parents and practitioners
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Some of the following sites may not be in English; an online translator may be useful.
Birth Situation Room Report
Midwifery Today Country Contact*
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Anne Sokol, an American missionary/teacher, lives in Ukraine with her husband, Vitaliy, who is Ukrainian. Anne reports that birthing practices in Ukraine are starting to change and more and more people are becoming interested in midwifery and homebirth. Anne is very interested in childbirth and maternity issues and welcomes contact by others interested in strengthening the network in Ukraine. View more about Anne here: www.birthinukraine.wordpress.com
What is the biggest challenge facing normal birth in your country and what is being done to address it?
Ukraine now has quite a few Baby-Friendly Hospitals. These are maternity houses where the birth rooms are private, partners are allowed and the baby is not separated from his mother. Kangaroo care has also been introduced to some maternity houses for premature babies. Several of the laws recently added are supportive of healthy birth practices.
One practice that is different here from other parts of the world is that both a doctor and a midwife are present at a birth. They each have specific roles. The doctor conducts the labor, checking the heart tones, breaking water, etc. The midwife comes when the mother is pushing. She is the one who touches the baby, not the doctor. (I have seen some disturbing aggression in getting the baby out—the midwives stroking their fingers around the baby’s head during the pushing phase to get it out, tugging and manipulating the head to get the body out, etc.) Both doctors and midwives do the active management of the third stage together. The doctor is the one who sutures. So when I say the word “midwife” here, in this culture it doesn’t refer to someone who is a stand-alone caregiver at a birth.
One of the positive things I like about birth in Ukraine as a doula and midwifery student is that the risks of epidural anesthesia are widely known in the culture and maternity houses don’t pressure women to have them.
— Anne Sokol