SAYREVILLE, NJ – As residents of New Jersey know all too well, weather emergencies such as Superstorm Sandy can and do happen.  With hurricane season only half over, the March of Dimes urges pregnant women and parents of new babies to be prepared for future emergencies, long term power outages or the need to evacuate from their homes.

“A large storm, hurricane or other natural disaster is a nerve-wracking time for anyone, but especially for pregnant women and new parents,” said Addy Bonet, State Director of the New Jersey Chapter of the March of Dimes.  “Being prepared and having a plan in place will save precious time in an emergency and help reduce unneeded stress.  September is National Preparedness Month and we encourage all families to sit and evaluate their readiness for emergencies.”

Pregnant women should discuss any concerns and their delivery plans with their obstetrician or other perinatal care provider. Families should follow storm readiness guidelines and put together an emergency bag in the event they many need to evacuate quickly.  Also have important phone numbers (such as your health care provider) written down and accessible, in case phone access is limited or cell phone batteries need to be recharged.

The March of Dimes chapters and its web site (marchofdimes.com) are good sources of information for pregnant women. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov) also offers important information about preparing for a storm. Those needing shelter or warming stations should call 2-1-1 for information.  Additional resources can be found at http://www.state.nj.us/njoem/.

While pregnant women should follow the general storm preparedness recommendations, they and new mothers also should take special precautions for themselves and their children.

March of Dimes Emergency Preparedness Tips for Pregnant Women and New Parents

1) Pregnant women should know the signs labor and if they experience any of these symptoms should NOT wait for them to just go away.  They should seek immediate medical care. Preterm labor is any labor before 37 weeks gestation. The signs of labor are:

$1·        Contractions (the abdomen tightens like a fist) every 10 minutes or more often

$1·        Change in vaginal discharge (leaking fluid or bleeding from the vagina)

$1·        Pelvic pressure—the feeling that the baby is pushing down

$1·        Low, dull backache

$1·        Cramps that feel like a period

$1·        Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea

2) Pregnant women should pack prenatal vitamins, or perhaps an extra supply of over-the-counter vitamins, along with extra maternity clothes.

3) Fill prescription medications in advance.

4) Have bottled water and non-perishable food supplies on hand. Try to stock food that is high in protein and low in fat.

5) New parents who may need to stay in a shelter should consider bringing a safe place for their baby to sleep, such as a portable crib, as well as extra diapers and other basic medical supplies.

6) New parents also should take special steps to ensure they have food for their infants.  The stress of a hurricane may affect lactating women’s milk supply, although breastfeeding can be calming for both mother and baby.

7) In the rare instance it becomes impossible to continue to breastfeed, mothers may consider weaning their baby. If they choose to switch to formula, parents should use pre-prepared formula because there may be concerns about the quality of the water supply. Do not use water treated with iodine or chlorine tablets to prepare powdered formula.

8) Pregnant women should do their best to eat regularly and nutritiously and remain hydrated. They also should do their best to get enough rest.

This year, the March of Dimes, the leading non-profit organization for maternal and infant health, celebrates its 75th anniversary and its ongoing work to help all babies get a healthy start in life. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter