My latest article for Broadly looks at the horrifying experiences of pregnant refugee women, many of whom have no access to antenatal healthcare.
‘There was only one thing on my mind: to get to the UK, to reach a safe place where my baby and I could have a good chance at life’
Eritrean refugee Helen* was two months pregnant when she left Calais refugee camp in France, hidden in the back of a lorry. But when she arrived in London, she immediately knew something was wrong. “I was in pain, and when I got up I saw that I was covered in blood.”
Having boarded the lorry with 29 other desperate migrants, Helen was the only stowaway not to be found when police searched the vehicle at the border. “I was hiding under the flooring so they couldn’t find me. It was a dangerous hiding place; unknowingly, the police were walking on top of me. I didn’t think about the pain I felt. All I thought about was getting to England,” she says.
On arrival though, the pain and panic kicked in. “The lorry driver shouted at me when he saw me, but I begged him to show me to the nearest police station,” she says. Later, in hospital, a doctor confirmed that Helen had miscarried her baby.
As difficult pregnancies go, the circumstances don’t get much more grim than preparing for a baby while fleeing your home in search of safety—and, for Helen, this pregnancy really was traumatic from beginning to end.