Birth under bombs: 9 months of hell in Gaza

yasmeen and her triplets, Gaza

Image © CARE/Team Yousef Ruzzi

08 July 2024

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Pregnant women and new mums in Gaza have been living through hell for the last 9 months.

Since the start of the conflict, pregnant women are now three times more likely to miscarry. And if they carry their baby to full term, they are now three times more likely to die in childbirth.

“I am terrified, I am really stressed. At the same time, I cannot wait to hold my baby in my arms. It is strange having these feelings of horror mixed with something so beautiful.” 

- Zenab, mother in Gaza

Imagine being pregnant and experiencing the fear of death every single day.

Imagine being pregnant and feeling like the world has completely forgotten you.

This is the hell pregnant women in Gaza are living through every day. In the 9 months that the conflict has raged on in Gaza, women have continued to conceive, miscarry, and birth their babies. Some of these babies have died just days later. Sometimes their mothers die too.

Survival against the odds

  • 50000 women

    are currently pregnant in Gaza

  • 180 women

    are due to give birth today

Instead of spending 9 months preparing safely and hopefully for the birth of their baby, these women have spent their entire pregnancy fighting for their families’ lives. They have survived with almost no access to healthcare and the fear of death ever present.

Those of them that defy the odds and manage to carry their pregnancy to full-term will often be forced to give birth without painkillers in a tent, a temporary shelter, or even in the streets amid rubble.

“My husband went out at 1am to look for an ambulance... He didn’t find anyone to help and he returned back home with a broken heart. Then he held my hands and told me that he would help me to deliver. As my daughter sat next to me watching and crying, I prepared myself for labour. I saw the membrane and the head of the baby. I thought that I was going to die ... I had no energy ... no strength to push.

Suddenly, my husband told me that I had given birth. This all happened on the ground, using the light of a mobile phone. My husband put the baby on my breast while the umbilical cord was still attached.”

- Mother in Gaza

Zenab and Yasmeen have both survived the terror of pregnancy and childbirth in Gaza. Read their stories below.

Women in Gaza are stepping up to lead their communities

Women in Gaza, and their unique experiences of the conflict, have largely been forgotten. So too has their ability to support their families and communities in these horrendous circumstances.

Despite all this, time and time again, women in Gaza are stepping up for each other, for themselves and for their communities. Women currently make up 70% of frontline health workers in Gaza. Doctors and midwives, who are themselves displaced, are helping women give birth in their tents as the bombs fall around them.

“I open my tent to offer practical support to delivering women in need. The least I can do is to use my skills to relieve pain for a scared and exhausted woman delivering.”

– Woman Doctor in Gaza

Now the new UK Government needs to step up too, and recognise the rights of women and girls and the leadership they show in contexts like these.

We are urgently calling on the Government to put women and girls front and centre of their humanitarian response in Gaza.

Read our advocacy brief: 9 months of hell in Gaza

Our infographic sets out some shocking statistics about the reality of life for pregnant women and new mothers right now in Gaza.

Download infographic: Birth under Bombs

How you can help

CARE packages Gaza

Image: Children in Gaza receive essential supplies © CARE

Please donate today to help provide life-saving humanitarian assistance in Gaza, such as baby kits containing blankets, nappies, baby clothes and other essential items for pregnant mothers who are about to give birth.

Right now, our incredibly dedicated team is working around the clock to support the urgent needs of people in Gaza, with a particular focus on women and girls. We have been able to reach nearly 400,000 people with humanitarian assistance.

Donate to CARE's Gaza Crisis Appeal today