With hurricane season upon us, pregnant women and their families 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.

Dr. Veronica Gillispie, from Ochsner Baptist is here to give tips to expecting mothers.

What expecting moms need to know:

  • 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 of 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

Feeding your baby:

  • 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 6 months old, breast milk is the sole source of recommended nutrition. Breastfeeding is always available and sterile.
  • 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.

For more information, please visit ochsner.org/prepare.

About Women’s Pavilion at Ochsner Baptist

  • Ochsner Baptist is the Gulf South’s premier women’s center and destination of choice for elective care.
  • We also offer OB/GYN clinics, Labor and Delivery, Maternal Fetal Medicine and Gynecologic Robotic Surgery, as well as the Level III Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and an Alternative Birthing Center, the only hospital-based alternative birthing center in the region.
  • Cameras: New parents can utilize our NICVIEW webcams (donated by the Brees Dream Foundation) to keep an eye on their babies year-round. We have 42 cameras in our NICU which watch over our tiniest patients and parents can see them real-time via computer or smartphone. We also have cameras in our Labor and Delivery suites, and several women for those who don’t have family members present to meet the new babies which can also be utilized should a severe weather event occur. This technology is also available at Lafayette General Medical Center and will soon be available at St. Tammany Parish Hospital. Both hospitals are part of the Ochsner Health Network.

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