If you're currently pregnant and nearing your due date, you may be understandably concerned about the upcoming forecast for Hurricane Irma's path towards North Carolina. While there's still a lot of time for the path to shift a little, it's looking more and more certain each day that the Triangle region may be in for some stormy weather at the very least.
As doulas, we know that this often correlates with a rise in the number of labors we attend, and in fact, science confirms this for us! The combination of the low pressure systems that come with a hurricane and the stress of any natural disaster do tend to send pregnant people into labor and/or rupture membranes.
So, what should you do if you're approaching your due date AND you're in the path of Hurricane Irma? Our birth doula team has a few suggestions.
Charge up your phones and consider buying an extra battery-powered charger.
This seems like a no-brainer, but we're pretty attached to our phones and often drain the batteries quickly without realizing it! If labor starts during the storm, you need to not only be able to call your providers to let them know; you may need to call emergency services for transport if your roads are unsafe to travel on yourself. Also, write your providers name, phone number and hospital address down on real! actual! paper! in case you need to access that information and your phone is unusable.
Speaking of roads, take the time now to find several alternative routes to your birth location.
This is especially important if your birth place is not close by to your home. It is possible that with heavy rains, flooding may cause road closures or blockages. By knowing a few routes to your hospital now, while you're not in labor and can think with a clear head, you'll be able to safely and quickly get to your providers when you need them. And it probably goes without saying, but make sure, and then double check again, that your car is gassed up. (Fun Fact: Your doulas are also following this tip, so we can be ready to join you if needed!)
If you live far away, consider staying in a hotel nearby your birth location during the storm .
Not only will a hotel possibly have a generator if the power goes out, you'll be closer to your birth location should you need it. If not, then spend the weekend enjoying a Hurricane-themed Babymoon together with your partner.
Channel your inner Doomsday Prepper, and stock up now on supplies
Buy bottles of water, Gatorade, non-perishable snacks and other foods. You probably have a bag already packed for your birthing day, containing many of these items already. But, just in case you lose power for a few days and then go into labor, buy extra so that you're very well nourished heading into labor and throughout.
While you're at the store, consider going ahead and buying a few extra diapering, feeding and other newborn supplies you might need to get you through those first days, in case you're discharged shortly before the Hurricane arrives.
And if you're at home with a newborn already, and worried about your freezer stash of breastmilk, the previous post from our IBCLC Victoria Facelli, about protecting your stash in a power outage may be a good read!