Pregnant women (and their newborns) are at very high risk during a disaster situation. Sever stress can trigger pre-term labor. And even those who don’t give “pre-term” birth will still be at risk. If hospitals are running at all, it is likely they will only admit those at the highest risk, so most will be forced to give birth without a hospital’s assistance. It is possible that electricity will not be available, and roads will be inaccessible, so many may not even be able to make their way to a hospital. While you (or your spouse) may not be pregnant during a disaster, you may interact with someone who is. There will always be pregnant women in need of assistance during any type of disaster. I think it is important for all who are invested in preparing their own families for a disaster take a bit of time to educate themselves on the best way to help and assist those who may be pregnant at that time.
I want to preface this post by saying that I am in no way, sort or form a medical professional. This is simply some advice I have to offer based on my own research. I highly suggest that if you are pregnant, you talk to your doctor about anything you learn or add to your preps.
If you (or your spouse) are not pregnant:
I still suggest you consider gathering a few supplies that might help those who could be. I also suggest you kindly spend some time educating yourself on what you can do to help.
If you (or your spouse) are pregnant:
There are a few ways you can prepare:
Add supplies to your 72 hr / survival kit:
While it would be difficult to be fully prepared for any possible situation, here are a few suggested supplies:
- A copy of your prenatal records
- Prenantal vitamins and any other medications you are taking
- An extra set of maternity clothes
- Extra food in a 72 hr kit (you have a need for extra calories)
- Things that help lower your stress (religious items, books, a heat pack). You want to avoid stress and labor if at all possible.
- A birthing kit (The birth guide mentioned below also has a wonderful list of supplies that you may want to consider. You should be able to pick all the supplies up for about $70 and store them in a waterproof bag with your 72 hr kit.)
- Clean Towels
- Waterproof pads (a shower curtain?)
- Medium sized bowl
- Disposable gloves
- Hand sanitizer
- Large trash bags
- Suction bulb
- Receiving Blankets
- Cold packs
- Bottle and means to boil water (so you can keep the baby warm)
- Sanitary pads
- Shoelaces (to clamps the cord)
- Scissors or razor blade (to cut the cord)
- Alcohol wipes
- New born cap (again for keeping them warm)
- A printed copy of “Giving Birth ‘In Place’ A Guide to Emergency Preparedness for Childbirth” from the American College of Nurse-Midwives
- A printed copy of CPR instructions for both adults and babies
- A baby carrier (something that would allow you to carry your baby on your person instead of in your arms)
- Bottles and formula (even if you plan to breastfeed, this is wise. There is a possibility you will be unable (or sadly unavailable) to feed your child)
- Newborn clothing / blanket or two
- Binkies for a newborn (thank to reader Rachel for mentioning this)
Find local healthcare professionals:
It is likely that there is someone in your neighborhood (multiple someones) with medical training. Ideally, try to find a medical professional who lives within walking distance of many of the places you frequent: your home, parks, your kid’s school, church etc. Talk to these people and ask if you can call on them for assistance in a emergency. Put their phone numbers and addresses in your important emergency documents folder. If phones are down and you can’t call them, you may need to send someone to walk to their home to find them, so be sure you have their addresses as well.
Ask a few local friends if they would be willing to help with your labor as a “doula” to comfort and support you. Having people around to help you stay calm and focused will help.
Learn and practice labor-coping techniques:
You might be planning a hospital birth with an epidural and think you won’t need these techniques, but you may. Learn them, practice them and be comfortable with them. Even if the only disaster that happens during your labor and delivery is a mis-placed epidural, you will be glad you took the time!
Become CPR certified and consider taking a course in neonatal resuscitation.
Like I mentioned above, I am no expert, but I do plan to add a birthing kit to my emergency supplies in case I am ever in a situation where I need to help someone forced to give birth in an emergency situation. I also plan to study the birthing guide I mentioned in this article. However, I would add one last recommendation. Having a kit and a guide will not make you an expert. If there are medical personnel available, seek their help first, or send someone else to find them quickly.
Have any of you faced this situation? Are any of you medical professionals? What tips do you have for us?