Hurricane season is upon us again, and if you're pregnant and nearing term, you may have concerns about what to do if dangerous weather reaches your neighborhood. Though the odds of going into labor during the worst of a storm are very low, a little extra planning will help put your family's minds at ease. To find out how to be properly prepared for giving birth during hurricane season, we spoke with our own board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, D. Ashley Hill, MD.
Where to Go
There's a myth that low barometric pressure will cause women to go into labor but it's only that, a myth, explains Dr. Hill. It's actually quite rare for women to give birth during a hurricane. If you're concerned it could happen to you, talk with your OB.
In general, it's important to have an emergency preparedness plan. If you're in an evacuation zone, please be sure to evacuate as quickly and as safely as you're able. Bring everything you'll need for a few days with you since most shelters are only stocked well for a short time. If you should be unable to return home afterward for any reason, you'll have supplies to get by until you find new accommodations.
Staying with family or friends that are well out of the way of harm from the storm is ideal but if you're unable to, seek a storm shelter, says Dr. Hill. Storm shelters are equipped with first aid and other medical equipment as well, and should have trained medical staff on hand, too. You may be able to shelter at your local special needs shelters if your local shelter has "pregnant women near due dates" listed as qualifying individuals that can be housed at that location.
Unless your doctor tells you specifically that you should come to the hospital to ride out the storm and have your baby, do not seek shelter at a hospital. Hospitals are not equipped to handle shelter seekers and things can get dangerous very quickly if resources were diminished by the additional people seeking shelter. Most hospitals will turn you away immediately whether you've brought your own supplies or not unless you are actively in labor and dilated.
The most important thing to remember is that if you are at risk for delivery, or within a couple weeks from your due date, it is usually best to evacuate somewhere outside of the danger zone that also has a hospital nearby with a labor and delivery unit. Hopefully, you can stay with family or friends, says Dr. Hill. It's crucial to plan for the worst-case scenario when it comes to hurricanes since they can knock out power, prevent rescue operations, and disable other infrastructure. If you don't evacuate and you do go into labor, 911 or your hospital's labor unit team will be able to talk you and your delivery partner through the process in the unlikely event that it comes down to that.
What to Bring
Whether you're evacuating or staying put at home, be sure to stock up on drinking water and non-perishable food items as well as any medications that you've been prescribed for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, etc.
If you're staying put for the storm, be sure to have at least two gallons of drinking water per day set aside for yourself since you need to stay properly hydrated while you're pregnant. You'll also need to stock up on non-perishable food items that don't need to be kept cold. Avoid meats, cheeses, eggs, and other perishable items that may carry bacteria and could be harmful to you and your baby.
Before the storm arrives, talk to your doctor about getting a printed version of your prenatal medical records so you can bring them with you to wherever you seek shelter. If you go into labor before you can get to your doctor, this will aid whomever is trying to help you deliver your baby.
If you're close to term and you think there may be a chance that you'll give birth during the storm or before you can go home, bring your baby bag, blankets, diapers, bottles, and any additional items you may need on delivery day, with you to the shelter.
How to Know
If you have any doubts about where you should be during the storm, call your doctor and ask them, says Dr. Hill. Trust in your doctor to have your well-being and that of your baby in mind when they determine where you should ride out the storm.
We believe in the whole health and well-being of you and your baby from conception to birth and beyond. We are committed to providing you with the best care available. Please visit AdventHealth for Women or call Call407-303-4HER to make an appointment or to speak with one of our specialists if you have any questions or concerns about hurricane preparedness.