Resources for Pregnant and Postpartum Families During Natural Disasters

hurricane support.jpgFamilies around the USA and Mexico have been faced with several recent natural disasters including two massive hurricanes, forest fires and a significant earthquake just in the past few weeks.  Childbirth educators and other birth professionals can be a resource for pregnant and postpartum families by providing resources that they might find helpful during these stressful times.  Here is the information that Cara Terreri, community manager of Lamaze International's parent blog Giving Birth with Confidence put together that you can share with the families you work with. - Sharon Muza, Science & Sensibility Community Manager.

Special Pregnancy & Postpartum Precautions in Advance of a Hurricane

Call your care provider and ask what they recommend for your safety. They may even provide a resource list. This will also be helpful if you have special complications or a high-risk pregnancy. The same is true if you have a newborn with special medical needs, or if you have special postpartum recovery needs. Your provider will discuss the safest option if you are evacuated (general shelter vs. hospital shelter).

Stock up on medications and/or special equipment. Have at least a two-week supply available and request hand written prescriptions from your or your child's care provider in the event that you are displaced for a longer period of time. If you have diabetes, asthma, or another condition that requires special equipment, stock up on supplies to take with you.

Have a copy of your and your child's medical records on hand, just as you would if you were traveling for an extended period of time or out of the country while pregnant. This is especially helpful if you are evacuated for a long length of time.

Prepare to stay hydrated. Dehydration during pregnancy can cause preterm labor, so be sure to have plenty of safe drinking water available to you. Staying hydrated is also important for breastfeeding parents, as is having snacks on hand. Stock up in advance, if possible. As the storm approaches, stores are more likely to run out of bottled water, even as far as one week out.

Pack your labor & birth bag. This is especially key if you are in your ninth month or nearing your due date. Pack supplies that you would have packed for yourself, your partner, and your baby to bring to your hospital, birth center, or for a home birth.

Locate a new provider. If you evacuate, it may help to locate a new provider in that area for yourself or your baby. It may not be needed, but will be helpful to have on hand if you're urgently in need.

Heed your local evacuation recommendations. This is good advice for anyone, pregnant or not. If your local officials recommend you evacuate your area, make every effort to do so. For additional recommendations, take a look at the Florida Department of Health's Hurricane Tips: Pregnant Women resource sheet.  

Special Pregnancy & Postpartum Resources After a Hurricane

Locate open local hospitals. Even if you're not in need of any medical assistance, whether for you (if you're in labor, for example) or for your newborn, it's important to know which hospitals are available to you. Local officials and volunteer organizers will be your best resource for knowing which hospitals are operating and accepting patients. 

Locate open shelters. Red Cross has a database of open shelters near you. You can also find a list of shelters throughout the Houston area here.

Find free services if you are displaced. Texas Birth Networks has a list of organizations, businesses, and resources available for free services relevant to pregnant and new parents who have been displaced by Hurricane Harvey. The Houston Pregnancy Help Center is offering free supplies, like diapers and baby blankets, to those displaced. Arrow Child & Family Ministries is also helping displaced families with supplies needed for children. Additionally, there are many, many more pregnancy centers located throughout the Houston area available to those in need of assistance -- you can find a list here.

If you are located in an area that has been affected by a natural disaster and are in need of resources, seek out local pregnancy centers, birth networks, and maternal and pediatric care providers, and medical facilities.

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