Visions of painting the nursery may need to be supplanted by a storm survival plan if a nor’easter or hurricane is coming your way and you are pregnant. Your vulnerability meter is probably off the charts, but preparing for the storm can help keep you and your baby safe and your stress level down. Here’s what to do and what not to do, whether you’re partnered, alone or have small kids already underfoot.
Connect with your medical professional. No matter where you are in your pregnancy, reach out to your obstetric gynecologist or midwife in the days leading up to the storm and ask for their recommendations based upon your own specific case, particularly if you are carrying multiples or have a history of preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. Even if your regularly scheduled check-up is not due, request an appointment and sonogram to troubleshoot any issues and to allay your anxiety.
Access local medical support. Research and list every hospital, medical facility and provider in your area that might be able to help you if you cannot get to or connect with your own provider during the storm, and keep their information handy and in list form, starting with those closest to you on top. You can also arrange for a visiting nurse service. If you are close to your due date, arrange for an alternative birthing location as a back-up.
Make your way to higher ground. If the big one is coming and you live in an area prone to flooding or evacuation, it makes sense to leave ahead of the storm, particularly if you have a place to go where you are cared for and feel safe. A growing body of medical evidence has linked weather-related stress to negative birth outcomes, so it makes sense to take yourself out of harm’s way. Remember that ambulance service and the 9-1-1 system may both become compromised during severe storm conditions. If you do evacuate, let your medical practitioner know of your whereabouts. If you are in your third trimester, bring your medical records and immunization record with you when you evacuate. If you go to an evacuation center, let those in charge know of your situation immediately, particularly if you are close to term.
Create a support system. If you choose to stay put, cast a wide net when creating a support system, especially if there are no other adults living in your household. See if a friend or family member is able to stay with you during the storm, and reach out to nearby neighbors and ask if you can keep their numbers by the phone in case of an emergency. Keep in mind that phone service often goes down during a storm if there is a power outage. In addition to cell phone service, have a corded land line as a back-up. An at-home generator is an essential at a time like this, as it will keep the power on. You can also consider create an agreed-upon, visual cue for your neighbors that will alert them to your situation if you are in trouble, such as a red flag in the window, leaving a key where they know to find it. If the only other members of your household are children, make sure they know how to dial 9-1-1 and at least one neighbor. They should also know your address and telephone number by heart.
Stock supplies. Do not put yourself in a position where you will run out of food or water. Dehydration is always dangerous but during pregnancy, it can turn deadly fast. Have water purification tablets on hand as well as one gallon of water per day for at least one week’s time for every member of your household plus Gatorade or Powerade, which can help with pregnancy-related nausea or vomiting as well as dehydration. Healthy, vitamin-rich food which does not require refrigeration and prenatal vitamins are a must. Ask your medical provider if non-refrigerated protein shakes or boxed almond milk are a good idea and for their overall recommendations.
Don’t rely on fetal heart monitors. While not without value, at-home fetal heart monitors do not always provide accurate results, either positive or negative. If you have concerns about your pregnancy, no matter what trimester you are in, get to a hospital pronto rather than reaching for a monitor which might give you either a false sense of security or anxiety.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
Learn more by visiting CBS Philly’s Storm Prep section