MONDAY, June 10 (HealthDay News) -- Hurricane season is here, and pregnant women need to take extra precautions to ensure their health and safety during a storm, an expert says.
Pregnant women who are close to their delivery date and those with high-risk pregnancies need to let their health care provider know where they will be during a hurricane. They should also ask their health care provider if it's safe for them to leave before a storm strikes, said Dr. Alfred Robichaux, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans.
Here are some other tips:
- Plan an alternate birth location in case of evacuation or problems with road travel.
- Have phone numbers and locations for local obstetricians and midwives in case you cannot reach your regular health care provider during evacuation.
- Women in late pregnancy who are evacuating should bring a copy of their prenatal care record and immunizations, as well as their birth bag. They should also bring a two weeks' supply of any medications, including prenatal vitamins and prescriptions.
- Pregnant women who go to an evacuation center should immediately notify officials and get information about the location of hospitals in the area.
- Do everything you can to reduce stress, which is a major factor in preterm labor. By planning and preparing early, you can help reduce stress levels.
- Create a family communication plan so everyone knows what needs to be done before and during evacuation.
Floodwaters after a storm may be polluted with infectious agents and toxic chemicals, which can harm both mother 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," Robichaux said in a medical center news release.
Robichaux also offered advice for new mothers, including creating a hurricane food kit for the entire family that can be used either at home or during a car ride to a safer location.
"Make sure mom has enough high-protein snacks and clean water to drink to prevent dehydration," Robichaux said.
He said breast milk is the sole source of recommended nutrition for babies less than 6 months old, and new mothers should pack a hand- or battery-operated pump and clean storage bottles or bags, and have a method of freezing or cold storage for pumped breast milk.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about hurricane readiness.