Breastfeeding, Pregnancy, and Emergency Childbirth in a Disaster
Disasters happen. You've seen them, heard of them, and maybe even experienced them in recent years. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and the threat of pandemic illnesses are here in our society. It's up to you to prepare your family.
As a woman in her childbearing years it is especially important for you to plan. You need to be able to take care of the baby you are pregnant with, or your infant and young child in an emergency situation.
First, make sure you understand enough of your own fertility signs to prevent a pregnancy during disaster. If you're trying to conceive, stop. After the emergency is over allow a month or two for the stress and fear to lessen and your nutrient reserves to rebuild. Keep a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility on your bookshelf.
The cornerstone to being prepared for a disaster or emergency is having enough supplies to "go it on your own" for several days. Have food stored. Rotate through your foods. Store foods you already eat - canned meats and beans, canned produce. Store water.
If you are pregnant or could become pregnant, I highly recommend you store extra food for yourself - especially protein foods. Store extra canned meat, peanut butter, and beans. Protein is vital to your growing baby. Store extra water for yourself.
The above applies to you if you are nursing. Be especially sure to store extra water! If your baby is old enough for solids either store extra baby food (if you use it) or extra canned goods your baby can eat (plain canned beans and meats can usually be mashed for baby).
If you must formula feed your baby store extra formula. Be sure your rotate your formula supply. If you have to evacuate your home in a disaster situation take this formula with you.
If you're a breastfeeding mother and given formula during an emergency, drink the formula yourself or pass it to a formula feeding mother. Keep nursing your baby often to keep your milk supply up. A drop in milk supply is normal in stressful situations. Keep nursing often, eat the food and water you've stored, and your supply will rebuild.
If you're pregnant or could become pregnant it's a good idea to have a good book on pregnancy and a good book on birth. Keep Spiritual Midwifery on your bookshelf. Right-click to download a .pdf copy of Emergency Childbirth (to buy a hard copy of Emergency Childbirth click here). Keep a good solid babycare book on hand too.
If labor begins during a disaster situation remember to relax! You can birth your baby. Add clean, packed (brown paper bags work well) towels in with your emergency supplies, and yet more extra water. Wrap your baby up skin-to-skin with you under the towels and couple of blankets and nurse your baby after the birth. Don't cut the cord and do wait on the placenta, don't pull at it.
Food and water are vital to your survival and your children's survival. Have extra food on hand to nourish yourself as you are pregnant and nursing. A little planning can make a disaster much easier to weather. Remember breastfeeding is best for your baby in disaster situations! You can even nourish older children with breastmilk in an emergency. Prepare yourself and your family now!
Please feel free to share the link to this page with more mamas and their families!
An huge listing of governmental emergency organizations - look up one in your country for a good starting point on preparing your family.
Read the Natural Birth and Breastfeeding pages to learn more about birthing and nursing naturally.
Read Christine's story to see how nursing saved her baby in a disaster situation!