Health Information for Women & Children in Flooding Areas
Danielle Prenevost, March of Dimes, (612) 326-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org
Edina, MN, June 21, 2012
The needs of a pregnant woman during a disaster are unique. The March of Dimes is an information resource for families affected by flooding in Minnesota. Here are important things for families to remember as the water recedes and cleanup begins:
Flood Water in Streets and Buildings
Flood water may contain harmful substances. For instance, the water may contain bacteria that could cause serious disease. It's best if children and pregnant women avoid touching or walking in flood water.
If you do touch the water, use soap and clean water to wash the parts of your body that came in contact with it. Whenever possible, people who must come in contact with the water should wear protective clothing, such as gloves and boots.
If you are pregnant, be especially careful not to swallow any flood water. Try to keep it away from your mouth. If you feel sick in any way, talk to a doctor or nurse right away. Remember to tell them that you are pregnant.
Toxic Exposures During Pregnancy
If you are worried that you and the baby you are carrying may have been exposed to dangerous chemicals or substances, talk to a health care professional.
The Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) offers free telephone counseling to pregnant women worried about toxic exposures. Call the toll-free number (866) 626-6847.
Returning to Your Home
Pregnant women may face several possible dangers when returning home, depending on the extent of damage and their individual circumstances. If you are pregnant and your home has been damaged, it may be best to ask disaster workers, family members and friends to clean up.
Possible hazards that could threaten your health and your pregnancy include:
- Pollutants such as bacteria and mold that have contaminated household items
- Hard physical work, such as carrying and lifting heavy items
- Falling while stepping over debris
- Electrical shocks
Your state and local health or environmental departments can tell you about pollutants in your area. For information on environmental hazards and pregnancy, read the March of Dimes fact sheet.
Labor Symptoms: Normal and Preterm
Stress is a risk factor for preterm labor. If you have any of the symptoms below, do not wait for them to just go away. If you are in a shelter, immediately go to the person in charge of your site. Tell him or her you need medical care right away.
- Contractions (your abdomen tightens like a fist) every 10 minutes or more often
- Leaking fluid or bleeding from your vagina
- The feeling that your baby is pushing down
- Low, dull backache
- Cramps that feel like your period
- Cramps in your belly with or without diarrhea
No matter what your housing situation, take a little time (10 to 15 minutes) to lie down and put your feet up. Try to do this a few times each day.
To have this time be most effective, try your best to:
- Go to a quiet spot.
- Clear your mind of worries for these few minutes.
- Take deep breaths from your belly, not your chest.
Avoid getting overheated.
Stress and Pregnancy: Mental/Emotional Relief
Find someone to talk to a few times a day. Invite the person to be your "buddy." Share with him or her any concerns you may have about being pregnant in these difficult circumstances. The fact that you have someone to talk to is helpful all by itself.
Health care providers can help you cope with stress or refer you to other professionals. You can also get help from:
- A clergy member
- The department of psychology at a local college or university
- The local community mental health center.
An emergency situation causes stress for a family. If you are concerned about your relationship and your safety, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233).
For a link to this information and more, go to marchofdimes.com.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing 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.