I often think about disasters in The Philippines….I have seen a BIG typhoon and the effects of them and frankly they are SCARY, imagine if you are heavily pregnant living through this ……so I think of our precious mums and their babies often…….
Facts are that babies are born early when disaster strikes, prem babies are common….but with some simple principles we can help educate our mum’s…this is a great article in Midwifery Today, simple but loads we can use! Kangaroo Care is simple but effective!
Prematurity and Kangaroo Care during a Disaster
After Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda slammed into our central islands here in the Philippines last November, I saw a picture in the local paper of several newborn premature babies all wrapped in plastic bags and set on a counter in a broken-down chapel of a hospital. I knew in that instant that if only we could get down there to provide, and teach others to provide, good midwifery care, including the very simple and totally free concept of “kangaroo care” for the preemies, we could save many lives.
For many years, I have been teaching Disaster Preparedness and Response, which is no surprise since I live in a country with the most natural disasters of almost any…country. (The Philippines regularly is in the top three countries each year with the most natural disasters and the most deaths from natural disasters.) We have earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, mudslides, typhoons and super typhoons, and we have very little ability as a country to cope with, or mitigate, large-scale disasters, which was the case when the largest storm to ever make landfall occurred on November 8, 2013.
There are two things we know about disasters:
- Disasters tend to cause premature labors, due to the stress they put on pregnant women in the vicinity when the disaster strikes. This unfortunately creates a situation where premature births are happening under the worst of circumstances—during a typhoon, flood, blizzard, earthquake or an act of terrorism.
- Access to hospitals, NICUs and advanced medical care is often severely blocked, limited or totally destroyed in a natural or man-made disaster zone.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that there are a few simple, easy solutions to this problem. It will require midwives all over the world, including in the US, to be prepared to address the problem of premature deliveries following any disaster.
Current best practice for prematurity, to prevent mortality and morbidity, dictates two things:
- We should try to prevent a baby being born with immature, under-developed lungs.
- We should care for any babies that are born premature with kangaroo care.
With regard to the first practice, at the recent Women Deliver Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we learned about new protocols for the use of antenatal corticosteroids for threatened preterm birth. USAID is advocating that all midwives and doctors use these corticosteroids if premature delivery seems inevitable, as they cause a premature infant’s lungs to produce surfactant, thereby helping to prevent death from respiratory distress caused by immature lungs.
— Vicki Penwell
Excerpted from “Prematurity and Kangaroo Care during a Disaster,” Midwifery Today, Issue 111