This article is designed for persons affected by Hurricane Katrina, especially for pregnant women and for anyone responsible
for feeding a baby.
To support our local efforts, you can donate directly to our Louisiana or Missippippi Chapters.
If you are pregnant, do your best to eat at regular intervals throughout the day. Depending on what’s
available, try to choose food that is higher in protein and lower in fat. Carbohydrates like bread and pasta help to
give you energy. For more information, read Eating for Two.
Listen to and follow public announcements. Local authorities will tell you if tap water is safe to drink or
to use for cooking or bathing. If the water is not safe to use, follow local instructions to use bottled water or to boil
or disinfect water for cooking, cleaning or bathing.
Boiling water, when practical, is the preferred way to kill harmful bacteria and parasites. Bringing water to a rolling
boil for 1 minute will kill most organisms. If you can't boil water, you can treat water with chlorine tablets or iodine tablets.
Follow the directions that come with the tablets. Keep treated water out of reach of children and toddlers.
Pre-prepared formula is recommended because of concerns about water safety. Do not use water
treated with iodine or chlorine tablets to prepare powdered formulas.
LABOR SYMPTOMS: NORMAL AND PRETERM
If you have any of these symptoms, 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
- Change in vaginal discharge (leaking fluid or bleeding from your vagina)
- Pelvic pressure—the feeling that your baby is pushing down
- Low, dull backache
- Cramps that feel like your period
- Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea
If you are not in a shelter and have any of these symptoms, contact a health care provider. For more about normal labor,
read Giving Birth. For more about labor that comes too early, read Preterm Labor.
If you are pregnant, 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 three times a day—such as after breakfast, lunch and dinner.
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.
If you are pregnant, find someone to talk to for a couple of minutes a few times a day.
Invite the person to be your "buddy." Share with him or her any special 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. Or you can ask
a clergy member for help. If services are available in your area, you can also contact the department of psychology at
a local college or university or the local community mental health center.
If you ever feel like harming yourself or your baby, talk to a health care provider right away.
If you would like more information, read the March of Dimes article on stress and pregnancy.
While stress may affect your milk supply, breastfeeding itself can help to reduce stress. When you breastfeed, your body
creates hormones that are calming. Do your best to make breastfeeding time as relaxed as you can under the circumstances.
In rare cases, some women will find it impossible to continue to breastfeed. If this occurs, wean the baby as slowly as
possible. This is important for both your health and the baby’s. Hold and cuddle your baby as much as possible to reduce
your baby’s stress. Pre-prepared formula is recommended because of concerns about water safety.
For general information on hurricane recovery, go to Key Facts About Hurricane Recovery on the Web site of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For Other Help
Florida Division of Emergency Management
2555 Shumard Oak Blvd.
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness
7667 Independence Blvd.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70806
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency
P.O. Box 4501, Fondren Station
Jackson, Mississippi 39296
- American Academy of Pediatrics
Advice is available in English and Spanish on communicating with children about disasters.
- American Association of Poison Control Centers
Information available in both English and Spanish.
- American Psychological Association
You can be connected to the state or local referral service for your area.
- American Mental Health Counselors Association
AMHCA offers a "Find a Counselor" directory.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Response Hotline
Information available in both English and Spanish.
- Center for Mental Health Services, Emergency Services and Disaster Relief Branch
The Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) works in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in overseeing
national efforts to provide emergency mental health services to survivors of Presidentially-declared disasters. Center activities
provide support to individuals and communities affected by disasters, state and local mental health administrators, and other
groups that respond to those affected by disasters. The Web site provides a "Mental Health Services Locator."
- Girls and Boys Town National Hotline
Provides free counseling and reassurance 24 hrs a day, seven days a week in both English
and Spanish. Professional counselors can help callers cope with feelings of anger, stress or grief.
- National Mental Health Association
NMHA has a number of resources to help schools, businesses, families and communities provide mental health services and
counseling for people dealing with trauma. With 340 affiliates nationwide, NMHA’s network (available online) provides
grassroots connections for many services and programs.
- Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is prepared to serve 400,000 hot meals per day to residents and
first responders in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
- United Way
Enter the zip code to find the local United Way office.