With Tropical Storm Erika — potentially soon becoming a hurricane — making its way to the Southeastern US, it’s a good time to talk about emergency preparedness considerations if you are pregnant and/or about to give birth. Of course, all of the standard Hurricane Evacuation Plan still apply, like knowing the hurricane evacuation route, having an exit plan, purchasing non-perishables, keeping medication on hand, etc. But if you are pregnant, and possibly approaching or near your due date, take additional precautions to ensure safety and comfort.
Tips for Weather Emergency Preparedness During Pregnancy
- Stay calm. Sounds silly, yes, but the less anxious, worked up, stressed, and alarmed you are about the possibility of a weather-related evacuation, for example, the better you will “weather the storm,” so to speak. Take time out to pause, take long, slow deep breaths, meditate, pray, or practice yoga — all of the things you might normally do to bring you peace.
- Call your doctor/midwife’s office. This is especially helpful if you are near your due date. Find out what the course of action is should you go into labor during an evacuation or severe inclement weather.
- Carry a copy of your medical records. This is helpful any time you travel. If you have to be treated or examined, or give birth, outside of your own care provider’s office or designated hospital, this will provide important information relevant to you and your baby’s health.
- Locate a back up. If you are evacuated, know your evacuation plan and location. Locate a hospital, OB office, or midwife near that area, in the unlikely event you may need medical attention.
- Stock up on water – and drink it! Make sure you have plenty of clean drinking water available to you. It’s important during pregnancy to always stay well hydrated, but with the added stresses of travel and an emergency situation, it will become even more critical for your safety. Dehydration can cause preterm labor. Plus, the availability of water during a weather-related event can be scarce. Be sure to buy plenty of bottled water prior to the storm’s landfall.
- Snack well. In addition to bottled water, consider purchasing some non-perishable, healthy, high protein snacks to keep on hand. Nuts, beef jerky, and protein or granola bars are great options.
- Don’t dwell on the worst case scenario, but think about it. Baby born in a car or on the side of the road likely tops the list of fears of many parents. It’s rare, but does happen. What to do if baby is born before getting to the hospital, keep your cell phone charged, and you’ll be prepared as you can be should this event occur.
Have you every experienced an evacuation due to weather, or a similar weather-related emergency? Please share tips and stories in the comments!
Cara Terreri, CD(DONA), LCCE, is a doula and Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, as well as the community manager for the Lamaze parents’ blog, Giving Birth with Confidence. She is a doula and teaches childbirth classes in Myrtle Beach, SC, at Simple Support Birth, and is an active member of the Coastal Childbirth Collective, which brings resources and support to families in her community. Cara also keeps a full life at the beach with her husband and three kids.