In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the lack of emergency preparedness guidelines for pregnant women, infants and new mothers in the United States became apparent.
The article goes on to note:
"Pregnant women face greater risks -- like premature births, low-birth-weight babies and infant deaths -- during the stressful conditions of a disaster. This can make delivering a child difficult and potentially life-threatening," said Theresa Shaver, executive director of the District-based White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood.
The alliance believes that disaster situations call for a shift in the thinking of American women, who generally expect to give birth in a hospital or clinical setting. In the early phase of a disaster, officials said, births will often take place outside a health facility and without the assistance of trained health personnel.
"We will be in situations where there are no health-care facilities. In fact, if there is a pandemic flu, a hospital is not where you take a pregnant woman or an infant to," said Robbie Prepas, a certified midwife who heads disaster preparedness at the American College of Nurse-Midwives. During Katrina, Prepas helped many pregnant women with deliveries in airports and ambulances.
"We will have to retrain care providers to be comfortable with assisting deliveries outside hospitals," she said.