You thought you accounted for everything in your birth plan. But when Mother Nature decides it’s time for her delivery, you need to make sure you’re prepared. You can’t control the weather, but you can control your stress—and the March of Dimes advises pregnant women who face catastrophic events to be proactive in managing the negative effects of anxiety on baby. Most birthing classes will cover getting ready for a crisis with an emphasis on local resources, so study up, mamas! September is National Emergency Preparedness Month, and today, Tuesday, September 18th is National Get Ready Day. Sponsored by the American Public Health Association, this day— and this month— is dedicated to being smart and staying safe in the most unexpected situations!
Regardless of hurricane, tornado, earthquake, blizzard or terrorist attack, the easiest way to cope is to be prepared. Studies show that stress in early pregnancy can increase the risk of pre-term births and even cause a decline in the birth of boys (in times of stress women are more likely to miscarry boys because they generally grow larger and require more resources from the mother). So embrace your inner zen, and check out these guidelines to conquer the unpredictable:
- If you have to evacuate to a storm shelter, prepare a list of all medications and prenatal vitamins that you’re taking and place them in sealable bags. Make sure to bring at least a two-week supply.
- Communicate with your healthcare provider about the signs of early labor, and always bring a copy of your medical records if you have to relocate to wait out the storm. Once in a safe place, inform the shelter or hospital staff of your pregnancy so they’re alert and informed.
- Pack the necessities for baby’s birth—the same things you would put in a hospital bag.
- Make sure you always have an emergency supply kit stowed away in your home. Supply kits should contain baby and personal care items, first aid, food and one gallon of water per person per day. Also make sure to have plenty of batteries and flashlights.
- Keep all important financial and identification documents in one place, so if you need to grab them on the run it’s convenient to do so. Remember your cell phone and charger too!
- Always, always, ALWAYS heed evacuation warnings. We cannot stress this enough. It may be heartbreaking to leave your life’s belongings behind, but like the old adage goes: stuff can be replaced. Bambino only needs one thing to get by in this world, mama—and that would be you.
After a disaster, FEMA and the American Red Cross will be on hand to help you get back on your feet. Both these organizations focus on helping families meet immediate needs such as shelter, food and emotional and medical services. Facing scary and tragic circumstances on top of pregnancy may seem taxing, but when you’re one step ahead, you’ll leave those disasters in the dust.