Pregnant Pakistanis face risky journey to give birth

STORY: Historic flooding in Pakistan submerged the route Rubina Mallah planned to take to her local clinic to give birth.

She had to make a perilous three-hour boat ride through flood water to give birth to her son, Muhammad.

Her husband called it a “journey of despair.”

“Water had inundated our house on the banks of Manchar where we lived. I was worried that night about how we would get (to the hospital). My husband brought a boat and I travelled to get to the hospital where my delivery took place.”

Muhammad’s first days of life have been lived in a makeshift shelter at a school.

He shares a common fate with millions of Pakistanis seeking safety from the rising waters.

Historic flooding that has inundated nearly a third of Pakistan.

It has also upended daily life for tens of millions of people including displaced pregnant women.

The U\N Population Fund estimates 40,000 pregnant women are expected to deliver babies in September alone and is racing to reach those women, along with the WHO and UNICEF.

At this hospital in Sindh Province, about 150 pregnant women are coming in from surrounding areas each day, according to hospital gynecologist Dr. Nayla Quereshi.

Since Tuesday, six women displaced by flooding have delivered babies.

Another has had an emergency C-section.

“We are conducting normal deliveries here and also emergency C-sections. Patients are coming with psychological issues saying we have lost everything to floods, this is a big trauma we are witnessing.”

Even before the flooding, 224 women died per 100,000 births in Sindh province.

The hospital’s director said he’s worried infant and maternal mortality will only get worse.