Emergency Prep and Pregnancy

Emergency Preparedness During Pregnancy

Me: 36.5 weeks pregnant with twins

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.

 

My caveat:

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.)
    1. Clean Towels
    2. Waterproof pads (a shower curtain?)
    3. Medium sized bowl
    4. Disposable gloves
    5. Hand sanitizer
    6. Diapers
    7. Large trash bags
    8. Suction bulb
    9. Receiving Blankets
    10. Cold packs
    11. Bottle and means to boil water (so you can keep the baby warm)
    12. Acetaminophen
    13. Sanitary pads
    14. Shoelaces (to clamps the cord)
    15. Scissors or razor blade (to cut the cord)
    16. Alcohol wipes
    17. 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.

Notify Friends:

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!

Get training:

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?

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29 comments on “Emergency Prep and Pregnancy

  1. Virginia on said:

    “A printed copy of “Giving Birth ‘In Place’ A Guide to Emergency Preparedness for Childbirth” from the American College of Nurse-Midwives”

    I clicked on your link for the printed copy but for the life of me I could not find it. Please help me!

    • Sorry Virgina! I’m not sure why the link stopped working, but I was able to find a new one. Try this: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CEQQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.health.utah.gov%2Fmihp%2Fpdf%2Fgiving_birth_in_place.pdf&ei=fgMlU4GwMo3zoATykILgAw&usg=AFQjCNE6jZeT6fEUXz8cX0Gzvjx920k5lw&bvm=bv.62922401,d.cGU&cad=rja

  2. Add extra receiving blankets (12 – 24) and 6 cloth diaper covers (I like Flips by BumGenius) and eliminate the diapers. As someone who has been through such situations (Katrina) and I know how a no biggie day or so can become weeks of no power. There were no diapers available in any stores, so replenishing supplies was impossible. But receiving blankets and covers can be cleaned and washed with any minimal soap on hand, a bucket and a toilet plunger. They can also be hung up to dry rather quickly so you can have a steady supply of clean diapers.

  3. I would think a very important precaution in an emergency situation would be Delayed Cord Clamping. Especially if baby is born premature. It is so important babies get all their cord blood to avoid complication such as anemia. Lotus Birth/Natural separation would also be a good idea.

  4. Marlene Brubaker on said:

    I gave birth at home (over 22 years ago), and my mother did 40 years ago. I also had a hospital birth as well. I would suggest preparing for both, even if you plan on birthing in a hospital. Speak to a homeopathic/naturepathic physician, and a midwife, and practice for both. Practice with others (preferably neighbors) in addition to your spouse, so that if your husband isn’t available (as mine wasn’t for the first few hours), they will know what to do. Being overly prepared is no sin, you will feel more confident amidst the drama of disaster. Have a birthing chair on hand. Have a large supply of water, so that if you want to sit in a tub to relax, and have water poured over you to calm you down (prepare for the eventuality of no water supply). Have things to distract you, for a prolonged labor.

  5. Rachel on said:

    Thanks for the ideas- I am planning a Home Birth in New Zealand in September.
    I was a little alarmed to see the advise about “shoe laces” for cutting the cord. Cord clamping is an unnecessary and dangerous intervention that deprives a new born of oxygen and red blood cells. A far safer option would be specific advise to LEAVE the cord intact, even after the placenta has been delivered, and wait for specialist help to arrive. Thanks

    • Melody on said:

      Thank you Rachel! You are absolutely right! In an emergency situation especially you would want that extra vital oxygenated blood supply for your baby. I have had delayed cord cutting on all 4 of my children. There is a plethora of information online as to why to let it be. Great point. So many people have this image of a baby being born and a doctor immediately clamping the cord, cutting it and then sending he baby off to mom. That is why it is so important to research things while planning for emergencies. You learn so much more and are prepared so much better if you educate yourself BEFORE an emergency arrives!

      • Thank you Melody! I know very little about this topic and don’t pretend to be a medical professional so I appreciate the input. I believe it was for clamping IF necessary, not cutting, but I’m honestly unsure. That was what was recommend in the book from American College of Nurse-Midwives.

        And sorry this reply took so long, I’ve had some issues with the comments on my site the last few days.

    • Thanks for the helpful comment Rachel. I believe it was for clamping IF necessary, not cutting, but I’m honestly unsure. That was what was recommend in the book from American College of Nurse-Midwives.

      And sorry this reply took so long, I’ve had some issues with the comments on my site the last few days.

  6. Melody on said:

    Great information!! Thank you so much for that! I just wanted to add that during the few planned home births I had I ordered birthing kits through Cascade. Here is a link to the kits and supplies you hopefully will not need : http://www.1cascade.com/Category.aspx?CategoryID=1034

  7. I wanted to point out that you can go online and buy home birth kits. They are pretty inexpensive and have everything that you need to have a home birth that are safe and sanitary–for instance, I wouldn’t personally use a shoelace to “clamp” the umbilical cord. If you are in a pinch, then obviously. But the kits themselves are pretty inexpensive, come with most everything you need, and its all together. (You can find them here for instance: http://www.midwifesupplies.com/BirthKits.html — the basic kit is less than $40)

    Just thought I would share. :)

  8. Shana on said:

    Many, many women in this country choose to give birth at home without hospital interference, either with or without a midwife. They educate themselves about the risks, self-care, and the real necessities for a baby in its first hours of independent life. Search “unassisted birth,” “freebirth,” etc. Be aware that the interventions performed by the hospital are NOT necessary, and can easily be skipped — for example, vitamin K shots are still a subject of controversy, with a new set of findings coming out that standard Vitamin K, which is given to every hospital-born baby, may be at higher risk for childhood cancers such as leukemia. When it comes to preemies, skin-to-skin therapy is successfully used in Africa to keep even 6-month preemies alive. Do your research.

    The best preparation to have, as a pregnant woman, is to know what your body is capable of and to know what you REALLY need to have for yourself and your baby should birth occur too early, or if you find yourself needing to birth without a medically trained attendant. I have myself borne two of my children at home without assistance, interference or complication. It is eminently doable and arguably less risky than hospital birth as a whole, and it’s an amazing feeling to know that you aren’t tied to the medical establishment, especially in this most private of situations.

    • Melissa on said:

      AMEN! Absolutely! In a disaster or in a situation where the hospital is unavailable a women needs to know that SHE IS OK to give birth at home and that knowledge in itself should relieve stress. Only 5% of all births actually need an intervention and these are found in women who are at high risk in the first place. The list above it great and does provide for the tools needed to birth at home but the most important thing is for the woman to know that though she may not have anticipated having to birth at home that she is just as safe as she would be in the hospital (some studies have shown that home-birth for low risk mothers is actually safer than the hospital). And I absolutely agree with the person above who said KNOW A MIDWIFE… or other mothers who have birthed at home… these people have incredible knowledge that can be invaluable in a situation where you must birth at home. Hypnobirthing is also a god send… I used it to birth my 10.5 lb son naturally and it worked like a charm. I will be having my 3rd child at home this September with the guidance of hypnobirthing, my family and midwife.

  9. Rhie on said:

    No where did anyone mention the importance of knowing you local Midwife!!! Midwives are everywhere, often having large reserves of knowledge in many healing arts. If there ever really IS a disaster, you want to know her, pregnant or not.

  10. A few things I would suggest going into this – things that I found extremely helpful & sometimes could not live without for my twins:

    Gripe Water – its a homeopathic remedy and can be found in the natural foods sections of most larger grocery stores, or vitamin stores, it really helps gassy fussy babies.

    A & D ointment, not the cream, but the orange-y ointment – not only does this help with diaper rash but also is a great moisturizer. (I’ve also found coconut oil to be better than A & D too, but that has a definite shelf life.)

    ice packs – breastfeeding, not much more need be said.

    Lanolin or Lanisol – the purple tube, not only does it help for its intended purpose but this is again a great diaper rash barrier cream, once you warm it in your hands. This is also a great product to have on hand if you have cloth diapers & use woolie pants. (Yes, I was crazy & cloth diapered my twins!)

    Lanisol wipes are also a great thing if a baby has a severe diaper rash.

    Baby bar soap – this has SO many uses! First for cleansing, but also you can shave it and use it as a cleanser for cloth wipes, by taking one or two thin shavings and dissolving in warm water and then soaking baby washcloths or cloth wipes in and using as a normal throwaway wipe. (obviously washing after each use)

    A swaddler or an extra blanket for swaddling. My twins loved the silky & minky blankets, which they still use at bedtime to this day and its also a dual purpose comfort item.

  11. You are gorgeous pregnant Misty! :) Great list!

  12. Melanie on said:

    Wow this is great info! Our daughter is planning on having additional children hopefully, so this is wonderful to know.

  13. Now this category doesn’t apply to me directly but certainly gives me cause to think about being prepared for others! My children are all grown – one married with my one granddaughter here already…but more are hoped for! One daughter is engaged to be married so even more grandchildren expected in the future! My son is headed to college so no marriage and children for him yet. :) Gives me more study ideas! Thanks Misty!

  14. rachel b. on said:

    We are not pregnant either… and don’t expect to be again. however, i have printed the pages (only 5) you have the link to and have inserted them inside the back cover of one of my preparedness books. Never know when someone may be pregnant whether it be a neighbor, or future daughter-in-law. Emergency childbirth info would be good to have on my bookshelf!

    Thanks so much for that info.

    have also read that we should try to keep some infant supplies and clothing in storage. for the “just in case” future baby that may come along during an emergency situation. an item that was stressed was a package of new binkies. Indeed!

    • Rachel,

      Once again, you’ve added something I should have had in the original list! you should start a blog too! (-: I’ll add binkies to the list. Thanks again!

  15. Linda D. on said:

    We aren’t pregnant so this is something we will skip…but very good information. thanks!

  16. Andrea on said:

    Thank you so much for this information. I think many people simply forget to add to their supplies when they (or their spouse/partner) are pregnant, but being in a emergency situation while pregnant is probably one of the most difficult scenarios that I can imagine. As I am pregnant right now, I have been thinking about this a ton, but have come up with very little information on the web as to how to prepare for something like this. This is, by far, the most helpful information out there that I’ve come across.
    As for birth technique books, I really recommend Hypnobirthing by Marie F Mongan. Several friends of mine have used it to assist with their (multiple) natural births and claim that the methods utilized by the book made all the difference, and some didn’t experience any pain. I hope to join their ranks later this year. The premise of the entire book is that birth is a natural and normal experience, and that a woman’s body naturally knows how to give birth, just like it knows how to grow, develop, and mend itself. If we don’t allow ourselves to be fearful about the birth experience, and give in to anxiety, then our bodies will do what they need to do to deliver a baby. Typically, this can even be done with little or no pain. It goes thorough several relaxation techniques (meditation, breathing, and even self-hypnosis) to simplify and ease labor. While it is designed to assist in a natural birth monitored by medical professionals (who can step in if needed) I think it would be good for any birth situation; whether you want to take advantage of all medical technologies in a hospital, or are forced to take matters into your own hands in an emergency situation.
    Thanks again for all your research. With conference coming up, it’s time to evaluate my emergency supplies again, and all your tips will help with that!

    • Thanks so much for the book recommendation Andrea! And I’m glad you found the post helpful! (-: Best of luck with your pregnancy!

    • i agree on the hypnobirthing book. i used it with my first child and was only in labor for an hr and 10 mins. gave the book to my sister and she did the same thing with her labor. highly recommended!

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