The world is abuzz with babies!
On July 22, His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge was born. However, his birth is not the only monumental birth happening in the world. Every day, about 13 babies are born in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, adding up to an estimated 30,000 total births by the end of the year. The Zaatari camp is home to 160,000 Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war ravaging their country.
Many mothers flee their countries during their pregnancy, making a dangerous trip even riskier. The treacherous terrain and punishing conditions put an extra strain on pregnant women, many of whom make at least part of their journey by foot. The Zaatari camp has also seen a significant rise in the number of pregnant teenage girls, whose situation is even more perilous because of their still developing bodies and limited nutritional reserves.
The camp staff and volunteers work to address the unique healthcare needs of expectant and new mothers. In Zaatari, midwives are trained through a five-step program, prenatal clinics give checkups, and doctors and nurses follow up with new mothers. Natural births are delivered in the camp’s labor clinic, but Caesarean sections are performed the French and Moroccan field hospitals in the camp. Community measures such as peer-to-peer training to address topics of concern and women’s spaces to provide support for women’s issues such as gender-based conflict have been set up as well.
Mothers giving birth in refugee camps is not a situation unique to Zaatari. In camps all over the world, women give birth to their children away from their homes, friends, families and support systems, and in a country that is not their own. They risk their lives in hopes of reaching safety and stability. Their struggle doesn’t end at birth. Life in refugee camps is full of its own set of challenges, but thanks to the increasing awareness of the needs of pregnant women in camps, motherhood doesn’t have to be one of them.