What to Expect When You’re Expecting During Hurricane Season
Ochsner Obstetrician Offers Tips for Moms-to-Be
NEW ORLEANS – 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. Making preparations now can spare a new mother from unnecessary worry during power outages and storm recovery later.
Alfred Robichaux, M.D., Chairman, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ochsner Medical Center, offers the following tips for moms.
- 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 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 everyone is clear about 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 choose or have to relocate during a storm.
- Do all you can to reduce stress – stress is a major factor in preterm labor. Early preparation and planning will help reduce stress levels.
- Learn 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
Dr. Robichaux warns that 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 again fall back on your plan and evacuate so you avoid being put in that situation,” he says.
Feeding your baby
It is 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,” says Dr. Robichaux.
For babies less than 6 months old, breast milk is the sole source of recommended nutrition. Breastfeeding is always available and sterile. Dr. Robichaux suggests packing 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.
Ochsner Health is southeast Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, multi-specialty, healthcare delivery system with eight hospitals and 38 health centers in Louisiana. Ochsner has been named the Consumer Choice for Healthcare in New Orleans for 17 consecutive years and is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Hospital” across 11 specialty categories. Ochsner employs more than 13,000 employees, over 850 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties and conducts over 300 clinical research trials annually. Ochsner Health is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.