Tal Ben Walid, the head midwife in charge of delivery rooms at Assuta Ashdod Public Hospital, has experienced multiple wars during her career.
“I’ve been a midwife for almost two decades and have lived in the south all my life,” she noted. “Swords of Iron is not my first war, and I’ve grown used to such events. As both a mother and a medical professional, these situations are ingrained in our DNA.”
“What’s truly remarkable here is the unwavering commitment of our female staff, many of whom have already endured significant trauma in the early days of this war,” he emphasized.
Ben Walid said that many of her fellow midwives are residents of the communities bordering Gaza.
“They have been evacuated from their homes and some have lost family members or friends,” she said. “Yet, despite it all, we feel a deep responsibility to shield this small corner of paradise from stress and anxiety. Our aim is to project tranquility and peace for the pregnant mothers.”
This perspective is shared also by Karin Lee Ovadia, the nurse in charge of the delivery rooms at Shamir Hospital (Asaf Harofeh).
“I’ve dedicated 37 years of my life to this job and I have loved every moment,” she said. “There’s nothing more profound than the miracle of birth, and I still get emotional every single time. It’s the perfect response to the horrors we’ve witnessed – life’s answer to death and evil.”
Giving birth in wartime
The experience of birth during the war is very different than what it was before October 7.
Many fathers arrive donning a uniform. Some cannot come at all.
“One woman even wept during the preparations for a cesarean section because her brother had been killed just an hour earlier, and she was the one who had to break the tragic news to her parents,” Lee Ovadia. “Yet, despite these trying circumstances, our midwives are dedicated to the cause.”
“Undoubtedly, there have been substantial changes,” Ben Walid explained. “Most notably, many delivery rooms now host not just mothers but also uniformed men carrying weapons. Our mission is to maintain the experience of childbirth into one as peaceful as possible.”
When asked about her experiences on the morning of October 7, Ben Walid shared that her house in Ashkelon was hit by a rocket.
“However, two days later, I was back in the delivery room, realizing that it is the most healing place to be,” she said. “My days are filled with the miracle of birth, and I maintain an optimistic outlook, seeing the future embodied in these fragile infants.”
“Witnessing the happiness of the new families created within the hospital brings me immense satisfaction,” she added.
Ben Walid highlighted that her role is to care both for the mother and for the baby she carries.
“Nowadays, many mothers arrive at the delivery room today past their due date, overwhelmed by anxiety and the constant threat of missiles and alarms,” she said. “In the past, they focused solely on the childbirth experience and embracing their babies.”
The hospital’s delivery rooms are built to be rocket-proof so that the women do not need to worry about sirens and missiles.
“Sadly, some of the children and women who have been abducted or killed were born in our maternity ward, a tragic reality we must grapple with,” Ben Walid said.
“While we may feel a sense of helplessness amidst this crisis, I firmly believe that the best way to cope is to stand tall, to persevere, to ensure the continuity of our nation’s growth and prosperity,” she concluded.