It is not an ideal way to bring a child into the world. But for babies born on the Mediterranean Sea, their journey is just beginning.
It can be very dangerous traveling to a foreign land as a migrant or refugee. But pregnant women and their babies face much greater challenges. As well, pregnant women are usually not treated any differently to other asylum seekers or refugees undertaking such a journey. For example, the cramped and frightening conditions on a boat traveling to Europe can be particularly difficult.
"There were a lot of people in the rubber boat, we were all packed together...the pain was awful," Stephanie, a Nigerian woman who gave birth on an aid boat told the French news agency AFP.
According to the news agency, AFP, nearly 80,000 women have arrived on Italian shores since 2014. Thirty-five babies have been born on Mediterranean rescue vessels in recent years, and many of the pregnant women who board the vessels are well advanced in pregnancy.
"I've met many women who were raped. Often they have to sell their bodies in order to get a place on the boat," Marina Kojima, a midwife who spent several months on the Aquarius rescue ship which is run by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without Borders (MSF), told AFP.
Giulia Marinig helped three women on the Dattilo migrant rescue ship deliver their babies over a 48 hour period.
"I was working on autopilot. Just trying to do my best for the patients. We didn't sleep for two days," Marinig told AFP.
Surviving the legal ordeal
For the mothers and babies who survive the ordeal of a birth at sea, there are usually efforts to make sure they never forget the humanitarian assistance they received aboard the vessels. Stephanie named her daughter Francesca after Pope Francis, and a child who was born on the Aquarius in 2016 was named after the ship's captain.
But the tributes go both ways. A baby born on the Aquarius in 2017 was the inspiration for France's song at this year's Eurovision entry. That baby was named Mercy.
However, a big challenge for babies born at sea is determining a child's nationality. What nationality, or nationalities, the child is given comes down to where exactly the child was born, the nationality of the vessel on which the baby was born, and the nationalities of the baby's parents.
There are two international treaties that are relied on. The first treaty, the UN Refugee Agency's (UNHCR) Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, states in Article 1:
The second treaty, UN Convention on the Law of the Sea states in Article 91: