Ukrainian Women’s Magazines Are Telling Them How To Give Birth Alone In A Bomb Shelter

From how to give birth in bomb shelters to firing a gun, this is where women are getting vital information as the war continues.

Ukrainian Women's Magazines

by Lydia Spencer-Elliott |

Women’s magazines have offered us advice for centuries. Whether fashion pointers, celeb explainers, women’s health features or long-form think pieces, they’ve provided advice and guidance when we needed them the most.

During the World Wars, women’s magazines pivoted from haute couture spreads to reactive stories with Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron members on the cover of Look and Lee Miller’s war photography splashed across the pages of Vogue.

In 2022 as Russia invaded Ukraine and violence erupted, women’s magazines have once again become a vital source of advice and practical information to help women survive in conflict zones with buildings crumbling around them.

When Putin first launched his attack on February 24, Vogue Ukraine’s senior web editor Violetta Fedorova fled to the Slovakian border, where she liaised with international press. Meanwhile, their culture editor Daria Slobodyanik stayed in Kyiv to report on the ground. Along with their translators, beauty writers and other team members they have quickly swapped from writing about the best bronzers’ to the best ways to stop bleeding.

‘How To Protect Your Health In Case Of A Nuclear Power Plant Accident’, ‘Danger For Women At The Border: What To Know And How To Behave’, ‘Women Giving Birth In Bomb Shelters’ and ‘How To Survive An Emotional Crisis and Stay Calm’ are just some of the many war-driven features they’ve published over the last two weeks.

The story is similar at Marie Claire Ukraine: ‘How to get your acrylic nails off so you can more easily hold a weapon’, ‘Where to hide in your own apartment, if you run out of time to go down to the shelter’,‘What to do if you find yourself trapped under the rubble of your home’, and ‘A guide to childbirth at home during the war,’ are all now almost run-of-the-mill article ideas.

‘Pull out all towels, blankets, cover the place where birth will take place,’ the guide to labour reads. ‘Prepare 2-3 dry warm towels for your baby when he is born, clean dishes with warm water and clear rags, sterilise scissors. If bleeding is very heaving, the placenta is not born for more than 45 minutes, then seek immediate midwife delivery help,’ it continues.

While it’s hard to imagine delivering your baby in a bunker with nothing but blankets and a pamphlet for comfort, guides from women’s magazines are providing the help and advice desperately needed in a time of panic and chaos. Just today a maternity hospital in Mariupol was allegedly bombed, leaving children buried under the rubble.

Marie Claire Ukraine’s editor Iryna Taterenko told iNews: ‘I was not prepared for war and I didn’t believe until the last moment that Russia would attack us. For the first two days of war we didn’t know what to do, but then we realised we have a powerful rescource in our magazine to help answer women’s questions about this new military reality they’ve found themselves in.’

While the rest of the world’s press has been reporting how best to get aid to Ukraine, from donation collection drop off points to sponsoring a Ukrainian refugee, women’s magazines on the ground have offered civilians medical advice and attempted to fight fake news to stop the spread of Russian misinformation. It’s a brave, admirable, and essential task.

‘As for the military realities of Ukraine, the magazine plays the role of a diary,’ Taterenko told iNews. ‘Maybe later on, it will give answers to questions that will arise before society. For now, we are brave, we are on our own ground, the truth is on our side, as is the victory. That’s what I believe in.’

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