What to Do If You're an Expectant Mom During a Hurricane
Hurricane season can bring much anxiety for Floridians, even more so for expectant mothers. Women whose third trimester coincides with hurricane season are often particularly concerned about their safety, including preterm labor and delivering away from a facility and/or hospital. Thankfully, such major storms usually come with adequate warnings that give families time to prepare. Households with pregnant women and/or infants should be aware of a few additional precautions to ensure safety and reduce stress. Making hurricane preparations before the first storm strikes is key.
And don’t worry — if you’ve heard rumors that a drop in barometric pressure during a hurricane can cause women to go into labor, that’s a myth. There’s no evidence to support it being true.
But what should you be concerned about? Remember the three constants:
- Be prepared.
- Remain calm.
- Stay put.
Before the Storm: Get Prepared
Expectant mothers should follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) general guidelines for hurricane season. These include creating a family communication plan, assembling an emergency kit, and keeping a current list and two-week supply of prescriptions, prenatal vitamins and any other medical equipment, such as diabetic supplies. You’ll also need copies of your medical records, including prenatal records and immunizations if you must go to a hospital or shelter. Know your nearest shelters, the safest routes to get there and keep cars filled with gas. The Orange County Hurricane Safety Guide is a free resource. Be sure to write down contact numbers to local shelters and emergency services in case you lose access to electricity and the internet.
In addition, you should:
- Maintain up-to-date communication with your healthcare provider’s office so they are aware of your movements, your current telephone number and the contact information of where you’ll be staying.
- Check with your provider to discuss whether it's safe to leave prior to the storm or if you should consider going to the hospital or general shelter during the storm. This is especially important if you have had or are having complications in your pregnancy.
Pack in advance any personal items or provisions you will need for a shelter or hospital. Remember, space is limited. Find out beforehand if they have room and if this is where your provider wants you to go, as well as who can come with you and which supplies you must bring.
- Know the locations of other places to have your baby in case you cannot make it to the hospital or birthing center of your choice. If you are close to delivery, talk to your provider about what to do in case of an emergency.
COVID-19 – An Extra Concern
Remember, COVID-19 will be an extra concern this hurricane season for pregnant women, and it is highly likely shelters and hospitals may be crowded and/or space may be even more limited due to social-distancing requirements. Using good hygiene with frequent hand washing and wearing masks will help protect women and families.
After the Hurricane
So, the hurricane has passed — now what? This is often a time for recovery and clean-up, but pregnant women should take certain precautions. Two significant risk factors post-hurricane are dehydration, which can be a contributing factor for preterm labor, and exhaustion.
Be sure to:
- Have access to clean water.
- Get plenty of rest, take frequent breaks and try not to get overtired.
- Drink plenty of water or beverages.
- Take cool showers or baths and try to stay in the shade or in an air-conditioned area. If outside, bring water and an umbrella to provide shade.
- Wash hands well and frequently, especially after any contact with floodwaters, which may be contaminated and polluted.
- Do not lift heavy objects.
- Try to eat healthy.
- Maintain all doctor appointments.
- Know the signs of preterm labor.
Remember, unless your household is under an evacuation order, staying home is often the safest action. Be prepared, remain calm and stay put — or as many Floridians like to say, “hunker down.”
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