With hurricane season upon us, pregnant women and families with small children need to take extra precautions to ensure that things go smoothly, whether evacuating or staying. This can be a scary thought, but making preparations now can spare a new mother from unnecessary worry during power outages and storm recovery later.
In order to help prevent any stress that may occur down the road, try some of these helpful tips so you can have an evacuation plan already in place should a need arise.
What expecting moms need to know
Create a family communication action plan so everyone is clear about what needs to take place before and during evacuation.
It is also highly recommended to plan an alternate birth location in the event of road problems or evacuation, especially if it’s close to your delivery date or if you are considered high-risk. Communicate with your doctor’s office to let them know where you will be and discuss whether it is safe for you to leave prior to the storm.
As part of your evacuation checklist, include the following items:
- Copy of your prenatal care record and immunizations
- Two weeks’ worth of medications, including prenatal vitamins and prescriptions
- Phone numbers and locations for local obstetricians and midwives in the event you cannot reach your regular provider during evacuation
- Your birth bag
You can go to www.acog.org and find an OB/GYN in other areas of the state or country if you know where you are headed.
If you seek help at a shelter, immediately notify them of your pregnancy and get information about the location of hospitals in the area.
Floodwaters 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 fall back on your plan and evacuate so you avoid being put in such a situation.
Know the signs of preterm labor and contact help as soon as possible if you experience any of the following:
- Contractions every 10 minutes or more
- Leaking vaginal fluid or bleeding
- Feeling that baby is pushing down
- Low, dull backache
- Abdominal cramps
Remember, hurricanes do not directly cause labor to happen. Labor is expected anytime between 37 and 42 weeks and should be planned for accordingly. Stress is a major factor in preterm labor, but early preparation and planning will help reduce stress levels.
Feeding your baby
It’s important to 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. It’s also always available and sterile. Therefore, try to remember to 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.