As Hurricane Barry approaches the Louisiana coast, Woman’s Hospital urges expectant mothers to think ahead and be prepared for circumstances outside of regular appointments and to consider alternate birth plans.
“Hurricanes can be a stressful experience for anyone, but pregnant women have the added worry of going into labor or needing medical attention in weather conditions that can limit their ability to safely reach a hospital,” said Angela Hammett, RN, Woman’s Hospital pregnancy nurse navigator. “It’s important to communicate with your physician in advance and to establish a plan that is shared with those serving as your support system.”
While making an emergency plan and knowing what to pack are great steps to being prepared, there are some simple tips to follow:
·Plan an alternate birth location in case of evacuation or problems with road travel.
·Have phone numbers and locations of local obstetricians in case you cannot reach your regular health care provider.
·If you choose to evacuate, have a paper copy of all medical documents, including prenatal care, immunizations and medications.
·Should you evacuate or go to a shelter, immediately notify necessary personnel that you are pregnant and gather information regarding local hospitals in the area.
·Take action to reduce stress, which is a major factor in preterm labor. By planning and preparing early, you can help reduce unnecessary stress.
·Create a family communication plan so everyone knows what needs to be done--before, during, and after the storm.
In addition to expecting moms, all patients with chronic illness or those undergoing treatment for cancer should follow similar guidelines. Cancer patients can have weakened immune systems and may be at higher risk for infections, extreme fatigue, and injury.
“When we get nervous about something, such as a hurricane or other storms approaching, it is hard to think clearly,” said Robin Maggio, an oncology social worker at Woman’s Hospital. “Having a plan in place, written out, and shared with family members is your best strategy to combat this.”
Woman’s encourages all patients to contact their physicians and keep open lines of communication with medical providers. In case of an emergency, do not attempt to navigate flooded roadways. Call 911, for emergency situations.