Preparing for severe weather events while pregnant

Preparing for severe weather events while pregnant
Source - Pablo Buffer

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - When severe weather rolls in, it can be an especially stressful time for women who are pregnant. In addition to the threat of a pending storm, expecting mothers can become easily overwhelmed by the added stress of possibly having their baby at a time when they cannot safely reach the hospital.

Dr. Karli M. Boggs, an LSU Health OB/GYN at Woman’s Hospital, and Meghan Bardwell, a Community Childbirth Educator at Woman’s Hospital, spoke with WAFB to help expecting mothers get the information they need before the storm arrives.

PLANNING AHEAD

  • Immediately contact your doctor to locate clinics and resources in the area you plan to evacuate to, should you be asked to evacuate.
  • Make sure all medical devices necessary for care are charged. If using a generator to charge those devices, make sure the generator is away from the home.
  • Get a list of medications you are currently prescribed. Keep bottles of your medications that you can show to a pharmacist. Insurers may approve refills during times of emergency, and knowing exactly what you need can help expedite the process.
  • Inform family members of your evacuation plans and discuss ways to communicate with each other should mobile phones stop working.
  • Stock birth supplies and create a safe birthing space at home in the event you go into labor at a time when you cannot safely travel. Supplies include gloves, clean sheets, sanitary pads, a pair of scissors, and something to clamp the umbilical cord. Contact your doctors to create a full birthing plan for your home.
  • Plan ahead for heat by stocking double the amount of water. Designate water for drinking, cleaning, and health related purposes ahead of time so you’re aware of how much water needs to be purchased ahead of time.
  • Ask loved ones for assistance with storm preparations. The same restrictions apply for your health, even in emergency situations. Pregnant women and new mothers should not be attempting to fill and move sandbags or performing heavy lifting.

QUESTIONS FOR YOUR DOCTOR

  • What is the correct spelling of your name? How can I get in touch with you during the storm?
  • What medications am I currently prescribed? Which of those medications am I required to take on a regular basis? Which of those medications do I take on an as-needed basis?
  • How can I get copies of my medical records before the storm? How can I get a copy of those records should I need to evacuate and seek treatment at a different facility?
  • What alternate birth locations and local obstetricians do you recommend in case of evacuation or problems with road travel?

WHAT TO PACK

  • A list of medications you are currently prescribed, and a copy of medical records, including prenatal care, and immunizations placed in a re-sealable, waterproof bag.
  • Something to wrap your baby in should you need to travel through floodwaters or rain. A front-facing carrier is recommended to free your hands. It is recommended you keep both hands free to help balance yourself.
  • Emergency birth supplies. Supplies include gloves, clean sheets, sanitary pads, a pair of scissors, and something to clamp the umbilical cord.
  • Nutritious foods: protein bars, dry fruits, almonds, granola. Be cautious of canned goods which can be high in sodium.
  • Insect repellent
  • Closed toe shoes
  • Clothes for the baby
  • Wound care dressings
  • Antiseptic spray

LEAVING HOME

  • If evacuation orders are issued, take them seriously. You are one of the first people that needs to leave.
  • If you evacuate to a shelter, inform staff that you are pregnant or have just delivered. Make sure you’re getting care from medical staff at the shelter. Ask what resources the shelter has to isolate you and help protect you from infections.

WHEN TO LEAVE

  • Some mothers may feel reluctant to leave home to go to a hospital or shelter at the first sign of trouble because they assume they are taking resources away from those who need them. This should not be the case.
  • Head to the hospital as soon as you experience any signs of labor. Signs of preterm labor include frequent contractions (about every 3-5 minutes), experiencing a big gush of fluid, or waking up in a puddle of fluid. Heaving bleeding like a menstrual cycle is also a concern.
  • Expecting mothers who have been through the birthing process before may feel less urgency to get to the hospital based on lessons learned during their previous experience. This is not encouraged. During an emergency situation such as a storm, it is important to get to the hospital as soon as possible and give yourself and other enough time to safely travel.

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