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Effects of Disasters on Pregnant Women: What You Need to Know if you are pregnant

If you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant, and you lived through a disaster or had to leave your home because of a disaster, here are a few important questions and answers to help protect you and your baby.

Infections

What is an infection?

An infection is caused by germs. Germs can make you sick. The fact that you lived through a disaster or had to leave your home because of a disaster does not mean that you will get an infection. But, living in crowded spaces close to other people or near dirty water can make it more likely that you pick up germs that can make you sick. There are some things you can do to keep from getting sick.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.

  • Make sure that the water you drink is clean. Listen to the local news to find out if you might need to boil your water so that it is safe to drink.

If you have any signs that you might be sick, like diarrhea, rash, fever, cough, or anything unusual, talk to a doctor or nurse right away.

What happens if I do get sick? Will it hurt my unborn baby?

If you do get sick, talk to a doctor or nurse right away. Tell the doctor or nurse you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant. Some infections might harm your growing baby. The sooner you get the care you need, the better. While you are sick, drink plenty of clean water and follow the doctor?s or nurse?s advice. Drinking lots of water or other fluids and resting as much as possible are very important for all pregnant women, especially when they are sick.

For more information about whether or not an infection might harm your baby, you can also call toll free 800-232-4636.


Medications

I am pregnant. Is it okay to take any medicine I need?

Some medicines are not good for women to take when they are pregnant, but others are okay. Before you start taking any medicines, even ones that you can buy at the store, talk with a doctor or nurse first. Make sure to tell the doctor or nurse that you are pregnant or might be pregnant. Let the doctor or nurse know if you have any health problems that you were taking medicine for before the hurricane. If you are already taking medicine, talk to a doctor or nurse before stopping the medicine.

I lost my medicine. Will it hurt my baby if I don?t take my medicine?

For some medical problems, it is very important that pregnant women keep taking the medicines they need. Tell a doctor or nurse about the medicines you were taking before the hurricane, and be sure to let the doctor or nurse know that you are pregnant.


I think I might be pregnant and need to take medicine for a health problem. Do I need to tell someone first?

Before you take any medicines, even ones that you can buy at the store, talk to a doctor or nurse about them. Make sure to tell the doctor or nurse that you might be pregnant. Some medicines are not good for women to take when they are pregnant, but others are okay. Let the doctor or nurse know if you have any health problems that you were taking medicine for before the hurricane. If you are already taking medicine, talk to a doctor or nurse before stopping the medicine.

For more information about which medicines are okay to take during pregnancy, you can also call toll free 800-232-4636.


Immunizations

What are immunizations?

Immunizations help protect the body from certain kinds of infections. Immunizations are also called vaccinations or shots. Immunizations make it less likely that you get sick from some kinds of infections like the flu.


Do I need special immunizations because of the disaster?

The fact that you lived through a disaster or had to leave your home does not mean that you will get an infection. But, living in crowded spaces close to other people or near dirty water can make it more likely that you pick up germs that can make you sick. Some people might need to have a vaccine to prevent some of these infections, and others might not. It is best to talk with a doctor or nurse to find out if you need a vaccine. Be sure to let the doctor or nurse know if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.


If I am pregnant, can an immunization hurt my baby?

Many immunizations are safe for you and your baby, but there are some that might not be safe. If you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant, tell the doctor or nurse before you get any immunizations.

For more information about which immunizations are safe during pregnancy, you can also call toll free 800-232-4636.


Environmental Exposures

I have been hearing about carbon monoxide poisoning. Should I be worried about harm to my unborn baby?

Using generators, kerosene heaters, grills, or camp stoves indoors can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not use these machines in a closed space. Always be sure that a window or door is open nearby. Carbon monoxide is a gas with no color or smell. It is a poison for anyone, whether you are pregnant or not. It can poison both you and your baby. If you breathe it, it can make you feel like throwing up or feel very tired. It can even kill you. If you are having problems and think you may have breathed carbon monoxide, you should tell a doctor or nurse.

For more information about carbon monoxide and pregnancy, you can also call toll free 800-232-4636.


What do I do if there is flood water around me? I am worried that it will make me and my unborn baby sick.

If possible, do not touch or walk in flood water. If you do touch the water, make sure to use soap and clean water to wash the parts of your body that came in contact with the water. Do not swallow any of the flood water and be careful 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 the doctor or nurse that you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.

For more information about whether or not flood water can make you or your unborn baby sick, you can also call toll free 800-232-4636.


I have heard that mosquito bites can make me sick and cause problems for my pregnancy. What can I do to protect myself and my baby?

Getting mosquito bites can make it more likely that you get sick with certain infections, such as West Nile virus. There are some things you can do to keep from getting mosquito bites.

Stay inside during early morning and early evening hours. This is when mosquitoes are most active.

  • If you are outside, wear long sleeves and long pants when possible.

  • Mosquito repellents containing DEET are good at preventing mosquito bites. It?s better to put the spray mostly on your clothes. If you need to put it on your skin, use small amounts on the areas that are not covered by clothing.

You can also call toll free 800-232-4636.


Stress and Coping

I have been under a lot of stress since the hurricane. Can stress hurt me and my baby?

It is common to feel stress after living through something like a hurricane. Being aware of your feelings is important.
Stress can:

  • Make you feel tired.

  • Make it hard to sleep.

  • Cause changes in your appetite.

  • Make it more likely you get sick.

Most of the time, these feelings go away in a short time. Sometimes these feelings don?t go away. It is important for both you and your baby that you choose healthy ways to deal with your stress. If you are worried about stress and want to know how to cope with the stress you are feeling, talk to a doctor, nurse, or counselor.


What are some ways I can cope with the stress I am feeling?

  • Understand that the stress you are feeling is normal.

  • Get plenty of rest ? it is important for you and your baby.

  • Do your best to eat healthy foods and drink lots of clean water.

  • Find healthy ways to relax. Taking just a few minutes a couple times during the day to close your eyes in a quiet place can help. Reading, listening to music, or writing in a journal can also help you to relax.

  • Avoid the urge to drink alcohol, smoke, or take drugs as ways of coping with stress.

  • Talk to friends, family members, or clergy for comfort and share your experiences and feelings with them.

  • If you feel your friends or family can?t help, talk to a counselor, doctor, or nurse right away.

For more information about stress and pregnancy, please see http://www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/159_527.asp and
http://www.marchofdimes.com/professionals/14332_1158.asp.
You can also call toll free 1-866-626-6847 for information about stress and pregnancy.

 

 

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