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Pregnant and caught in the midst of terror

By ALFRED MURAGE | September 28th 2013


The devastation of last weekend’s events is still fresh in our minds. This column commiserates with all those who lost loved ones and wishes speedy recovery to those still nursing both physical and psychological trauma.

It is not unusual for expectant women to be caught up in terror attacks and the injuries may have either a direct or indirect effect to the pregnancy. Penetrating injuries to the abdomen can cause direct harm to the uterus and the unborn baby. Other injuries remote from the abdomen can have indirect consequences, like heavy bleeding or injuries to vital organs. And even the stress of being caught out in a terror attack has its consequences, affecting both the mother and the unborn baby.


Pregnancy-related effects include suffering a miscarriage and premature delivery. If trauma is direct to the abdomen, the unborn baby may die inside the uterus. If the mother has suffered multiple life-threatening injuries, she may not survive. It is sometimes possible to quickly deliver and save the baby, even when the mother cannot be saved.

So what should you do if pregnant and caught up in such dreadful terror circumstances? Events can unfold so fast that making rational decisions can be difficult. Beware of your current location, and if a possible, escape route exists. Minimise your chances of being a target by keeping low and sheltering behind any shields in your way. If confronted directly by the offenders, do not resist orders and instructions; you may just be spared that way. If you sustain massive injuries, you’ll need to be rescued. Remember to help others only if safe to do so because there’s no use adding yourself onto the tally of casualties.

Medical assessment

If lucky, to get out, contact your family and close friends as soon as possible. Rescuers will direct you to first aid centres or load you into an ambulance. A medical assessment is necessary once you reach the hospital, as you may have suffered injuries that may not be immediately apparent. You take precedence and your wellbeing must be stabilised first before making decisions on the unborn baby. In most cases, your injuries can be dealt with, allowing the pregnancy to continue. In other circumstances, the pregnancy may terminate. This may either be spontaneous or become necessitated by your injuries.

You cannot be too careful, as events will sometimes catch you unexpectedly. Keep your wits about you and try to act rationally, even when this is nearly impossible.


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