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Hurricane Season-What You Should Know If You Are Pregnant

By Washington Hill, M.D., a member of the Gulf Coast Medical Society, a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist with CenterPlace Health and Sarasota Memorial Hospital has been an obstetrician-gynecologist for 55 years, almost 30 in Sarasota, Florida during hurricane season all within the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System. He can be reached at dr.washingtonhill@gmail.com.


A hurricane is approaching. Hurricane season is here and can be a very stressful time for all Floridians, but especially for pregnant women. To help reduce your stress, and aid in preparation for a hurricane, here is a list of helpful suggestions and references. The more prepared you are the more comfortable, less stressed and safe you will be.


Before the Hurricane

Medications

  • Prepare a current list of all prescriptions and prenatal

  • Vitamins you are taking and put it and the pills in a sealable plastic bag to keep them dry and in a secure place among the belongings you plan to take with you if you leave home.

  • Bring at least a two week supply of all medications with you if you choose to relocate (mom’s) or go to a shelter during a storm.

  • Sarasota Memorial Hospital is NOT a shelter.

  • When possible, always bring medications in their original prescription bottle. In an emergency this makes it easier to refill.

  • Make sure you have an additional supply of equipment needed to administer medications. For example, if you are diabetic bring your insulin, testing equipment, sheet to record results and supplies; while those with asthma may need a nebulizer.


Call your Health Care Team

  • Communicate to let them know where you will be; if you plan to leave town take a copy of your medical records.

  • Make sure they a current telephone number of where you will be staying.

  • If you had or are having complications in your pregnancy, check to discuss whether it is safe for you to leave prior to the storm or if it would be better for you to go to the hospital or a shelter during the storm.

  • If you have a chronic medical condition or pregnancy related complication and decide to leave town, it will be extremely important to bring your current medications, your recently updated medical record information, and the name and telephone number of your health care provider to assure proper treatment should you need it. Ask your provider for advice on care where you are headed.

  • If you choose to go to a shelter you will need to bring a few personal items, but remember space is usually limited. Check in advance to see who may come with you and which supplies you will need to bring. Communicate with your doctor on where you should or are going.

  • Healthy Start Women– If you are part of Healthy Start, or have another case manager, let your care coordinator know where you are going. If you decide to leave town, provide a telephone number where you will be staying. If you are planning to go to a hospital or shelter, then let the care coordinator know where you will plan to go. Remember to bring your prenatal vitamins, medications, and any medical supplies or equipment.

If you go to a general shelter during the storm:

  • Do not go to the shelter until you know that they are accepting people. Call the shelter or emergency management in advance to verify that you can take shelter there; if you go, please follow the directions for that shelter.

  • Ask the shelter if you should bring food and water. They may recommend that you bring bottled water, non-perishable snacks, and/or money to buy food.

  • Bring all medications that you are taking as well as your prenatal vitamins.

  • Bring the following items unless the hospital or shelter facility gives you other directions: Blanket, pillow, sleeping bag, and any toiletries, flashlight, batteries, something to help pass the time, any additional items the hospital or shelter recommend that you bring.

During the Hurricane

  • We all get concerned but rest and don’t stress out or be scared! Easier said than done.

  • There is NO evidence that the hurricane complicates or hurts your pregnancy or the baby.

  • If you feel you are having a complication, call the hospital or your health provider.

  • DON’T JUST GO TO THE HOSPITAL IN THE MIDDLE OF A STORM PLEASE!

  • Hunker down with family and/or friends.


After the Hurricane

Once the hurricane has passed, there will be a period of cleanup and recovery. This is the time when you must be very careful not to become dehydrated and/or over-tired. Dehydration can be a contributing factor to premature labor. To prevent dehydration and exhaustion:

  • Drink plenty of water or beverages that do not contain alcohol or caffeine.

  • Take a cool shower or sponge bath and try to stay in the shade or an air conditioned area if possible. If you have to be outside in the heat, bring water and an umbrella to provide shade.

  • Do not lift heavy objects.

  • Be sure you do not over tire yourself, take frequent rests.

  • Try to eat a healthy diet as soon as possible.

  • Keep your next and all your doctor appointments if you can do that safely or call the office.

  • If you are concerned about the condition of your baby or yourself call your health care provider or OB emergency room immediately.

You got this!


Adapted from the Florida Department of Health recommendations at


For additional helpful Sarasota Memorial Hospital resources, visit https://www.smh.com/blog/hurricane-season-tips-for-pregnant-women


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