Hurricane Survival

What to expect when you’re expecting

Pregnancy protocol during a hurricane
Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

You’re a mom-to-be, excited to welcome your new addition into the world. Only problem is a hurricane is expected to hit Bermuda around the same time as your upcoming due date.

Feven Binega-Northcott

Now, what do you do? The Royal Gazette spoke to two local doulas—Feven Binega-Northcott of Harmony Birth Services and Reva Minors of Loquat Roots—to get their top tips to help expectant parents weather the storm.

  1. Know the protocols 

Typically, during a hurricane the hospital and local OB/GYNs will put together a list of women who are considered full-term (37 weeks onward) in their pregnancy. These women will be offered a chance to stay at the hospital until the dangers of the hurricane have passed. “Some people will decline, but the recommendation professionally is to be in the hospital,” says Binega-Northcott. “Women will be assigned to either a double room, sleeping two, or a public room, which sleeps four, where you will stay with other moms until you go into labour or the hurricane has passed.”

As the hospital facilities are not able to accommodate partners who wish to stay overnight in such emergency situations, there’s often some anxiety from the women and their partners that they may miss the birth. “Depending on the severity of the storm, it might be possible for the partner to drive into the hospital,” Binega-Northcott reassures. “However, in the event of a strong hurricane, emergency services will tell people to stay off the roads.”

  1. Ease any anxieties

One of the best tools to manage pain and anxiety while delivering a baby, particularly during a storm or hurricane, is deep or meditative breathing, explains Minors. These techniques involve holding the breath in for six seconds and breathing out for eight seconds. “It helps to calm the body and the nervous system,” she says. “Other tools for calming mothers-to-be are essential oils in scents such as lavender, teas such as chamomile and relaxing music. As there can be a lot of hustle and bustle in the hospital, I encourage women to try to create their own environment, almost like they are in their own little bubble. They can even use eye masks or ear buds to block out bright lights or sounds,” she adds.

In the event you can’t have your closest family or loved ones present during or after the delivery, Minors suggests bringing photos with you and keeping them by your hospital bed so you can still feel your loved one’s presence.

  1. Lean on any support

While you may not be able to have your partner or a doula with you for a delivery during a hurricane, you may still be able to lean on virtual support. Binega-Northcott says one positive aspect of COVID-19 was it allowed doulas to start having video calls with mothers-to-be. “There’s Wi Fi in the hospital, so women can use that to video call a doula or partner. This helps to reduce that anxiety,” she says. “A doula’s job is to help them try to reframe their mindset and to advocate on the expecting mother’s behalf. We also remind women of the importance of going with the flow during stressful situations and that the birth is one step in the larger parenting journey.”

  1. Communicate your birth plan  

As childbirth educators and advocates, both Binega-Northcott and Minors help their clients to formulate birth plans. This short one-page document is extremely important in helping women express their needs and desires ahead of birth. “If you have that discussion with your OB/GYN around 36 or 37 weeks, you are more likely to be in a calmer state,” Binega-Northcott says. “I encourage women to put the most important bit of information, what’s considered priority, at the very top of their birth plan, such as details on any medical conditions or medicines they are taking. They should keep this document with them at the hospital so that if a midwife is meeting them for the first time, or if their regular OB/GYN is not on call when they give birth, they can get a good idea of what the mother wants in a short period of time because they’re often busy.”

  1. Pack your hospital bag early  

Women should aim to have their hospital bag packed by week 36, Minors says. In the event of a hurricane, their bag should include a few extra days of clothes for mom and baby. These items should be comfortable, warm and easy to put on and take off. “Your bag should include personal items such as nipple cream, vitamins and a breast pump in case you can’t have visitors or get to a pharmacy immediately due to store closures. It should also include snacks and beverages, which can be kept in the fridge on the maternity ward.”

6.Practice makes perfect

Many positive birth stories have one thing in common: practice, says Binega-Northcott. “When I talk to clients we discuss options for coping with the demands of labour. From a clinical point of view, they have the epidural, fentanyl and the gas and air to manage pain. However, to navigate other stresses, one of the skills I teach my clients is hypnobirthing, which is a process of releasing negative narratives about birth and parenting through a combination of breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, guided imagery, positive affirmations and visualisations. These help to release fears we have around childbearing and being a parent and also help women to build trust in the body, which can be especially useful during a stressful time such as a natural disaster,” she says.

  1. Stock up on entertainment options 

If you have to go into the hospital during a hurricane, make sure your phone and laptop are charged so you have something to keep you entertained. In the event you have to spend an extended period of time in the hospital due to the storm or other pregnancy risks, having entertainment like movies, music, board games, books and puzzles will help to keep you from overthinking. If there is a hurricane, you just don’t know how long you’re going to be at the hospital, so bring as many of the things that you think you’ll need in those first 72 hours of birth, the doulas say.


Write A Comment