As you embark on the beautiful journey of parenthood, ensuring the safety and well-being of both you and your little one is a top priority. When living in areas prone to hurricanes, this responsibility becomes even more critical. This guide is designed to help pregnant moms and parents of newborns prepare for hurricane season, ensuring that you and your baby are safe and comfortable during any storm. For general preparations, please check the linked list in the Quick Links section.
It is a myth that hurricanes / low barometric pressure can cause you to go into labor. The added stress and anxiety, however, can be factors in pre-term labor. Early preparation and planning can help reduce stress levels and give you some comfort in an uncertain situation.
A birth plan is a document outlining your preferences and wishes for labor and delivery. If your due date falls within (or close to Hurricane season), you need to add a contingency plan for the possibility of a hurricane occurring close to that date. Consider and discuss (with your partner, doula, OB, or midwife) what your preferences are if you have to ride out the storm in a hospital and / or evacuate to a safe area. This should also include alternate birthing locations outside of the potential impact zone(s).
Whether you are expecting or have a newborn at home, prepare or update your list of emergency contacts. Besides family members and / or friends who can help and even provide shelter, this list should also include:
- Primary health care provider, OB, midwife, doula
- Secondary health care provider
- Primary and secondary places to give birth (hospital, birth center)
- Local emergency contacts and hotlines
Where To Go
If you decide to evacuate, inform your primary care provider about your plans. In certain cases, i.e., high-risk pregnancies, they might ask you to stay at a hospital for the duration of the storm.
Unless your doctor specifically tells you to or you are in active labor, don’t seek shelter at a hospital!
Staying with family or friends who are outside of any potential impact zone is often the best solution. In case that is not possible, check if you can find a hotel or Airbnb close to a hospital with a labor & delivery unit or birthing center.
Another option might be to stay at a special needs shelter if “pregnant women near due date” are listed as qualifying individuals.
A “go bag” is basically a supplement to your hospital bag with all the things you need if you have to evacuate quickly. It should include:
- Clothing for you and baby, diapers, wipes, burp clothes to last two weeks
- Baby formula, bottles, feeding essentials, and breast pump
- Important documents, including identification, medical records, and insurance information
- Personal hygiene items for both you and your baby
- Prescription medications and prenatal vitamins for you and your baby (in the original bottles)
- Baby comfort items, such as pacifiers, blankets, and toys
- Non-perishable snacks (i.e., protein bars, dried fruit) and water (2 gallons per day for mom)
- Baby carrier
Notes: In the event of an emergency, a decree might be passed that allows pharmacies to refill medications without prescriptions, but only if you bring in the original bottle.
Signs of Preterm Labor
As mentioned before, hurricanes do not cause preterm labor. Nevertheless, familiarizing yourself with signs of preterm labor can help you make swift decisions if it does happen.
- Contractions every 10 minutes or more
- Change in / leaking vaginal fluid or bleeding
- Feeling baby pushing down / pressure in pelvis area (hip)
- Constant low, dull backache
- Abdominal cramps