During hurricane season, pregnant women and their families need to take extra precautions to ensure that things go smoothly, whether evacuating or staying. Making preparations now can spare a new mother from unnecessary worry during power outages, and storm recovery, later.
Bethanie Genre, CNM, Midwife with Ochsner Health Center – O’Neal, offers the following tips to expecting mothers:
-Plan an alternate birth location in the event of road problems, or evacuation.
-If it’s close to your delivery date, or if you are considered high-risk, communicate with your healthcare provider’s office to let them know where you will be. Discuss whether it is safe for you to leave prior to the storm.
-If you are evacuating and are late in pregnancy, have a copy of your prenatal care record and immunizations and bring your birth bag.
-Have phone numbers and locations for local obstetricians and midwives in the event you cannot reach your regular provider during evacuation. You can go to acog.org and find an OB/GYN in other areas of the state or country.
-Hurricanes do not directly cause labor to happen. Labor is expected anytime between 37 and 42 weeks, and should be planned for accordingly.
-Create a family communication action plan so that everyone is clear on what needs to take place before, and during, evacuation.
-If you seek help at a shelter, immediately notify them of your pregnancy, and get information about the location of hospitals in the area.
-Bring with you any medications, including prenatal vitamins and prescriptions – enough to last about two weeks in case you relocate during a storm.
-Stress is a major factor in preterm labor. Early preparation and planning will help reduce stress levels.
-Flood waters after a storm may carry all forms of infectious agents and toxic chemicals, which can harm both mom and baby. If you are in a flood-prone area, it’s probably a good idea to evacuate so that you avoid being put in a difficult situation.
Feeding your baby:
-Create a food hurricane kit for the entire family that can either be used at home, or during a car ride to safer ground.
-Make sure mom has enough high-protein snacks and clean water to drink to prevent dehydration
-For babies less than six months old, breast milk is the sole source of recommended nutrition. Breastfeeding is always available and sterile.
-Pack a battery-operated quality pump or hand pump, clean storage bottles or bags, and a method of freezing, or cold storage
-Pumped milk will last about eight days refrigerated; previously frozen milk will last about 24 hours in the fridge.
-Pack at least three full days and nights worth of pre-washed bottles, nipples, and formula.
For more information, please visit ochsner.org/prepare.