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How Midwives Can Prepare their Practices for Disaster

There are two kinds of disasters for which midwives need to prepare.  Some are unpredictable, with minimal or no warning before the crisis hits.  Examples of these are earthquakes, floods, or terrorist attacks.  Others give us long term warning, but may still be unavoidable.  Pandemic flu is only one example.

Planning for each type of event will vary.  But even unpredictable events can be prepared for.  The planning occurs at many levels -- in practices, institutions, communities and states.  Each of us needs to evaluate our practices and see what needs to be done.  Some of the decisions can be completed at the practice level.  Others will require coordination with other groups of providers and organizations.

   Have a plan for your practice.

  • Who will see patients?
  • Where will you see them?  At home or in the office?
  • How will you separate healthy from ill patients?
  • How will you manage routine medication refills and injections?
  • Where will the babies be born?
  • How will the babies be cared for?  How will you feed them?
  • What will you do with sick women and premature infants?
  • What will you do when a member of your practice has the flu?
  • What will you do when your own child, partner, or other family member is ill?

    Have a plan for working with your community. 
    (This may need to be organized at the hospital or chapter level.)

  • Who are the first responders?
  • Where will they take pregnant women?
  • Who will activate the local emergency plan?
  • Who is providing care?
  • How will the care responsibilities be divided?

    Here are some resources to assist you with these issues:

  1. ACNM QuickInfo on Disaster Preparedness
  2. ACNM Giving Birth in Place
  3. White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood
  4. MERET (Minnesota Emergency Readiness Education and Training)
  5. March of Dimes
  6. "Disaster Plans for Childbirth" - Orange County Register
  7. "Helping Moms, Babies when Disaster Strikes" - Baltimore Sun
  8. "Introducing Emergency Preparedness in Childbirth" - Journal of Perinatal Education
  9. American Academy of Pediatrics Family Readiness Kit
  10. American Association of Birth Centers
  11. Find a Midwife - for those seeking home birth midwives
  12. DHHS/CDC Medical Offices and Clinics Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist
  13. Pandemic Influenza Planning: A Guide for Individuals and Families
  14. American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Pandemic Flu Preparedness

For further information, please contact Robbie Prepas, Chairman of the ACNM Ad Hoc Committee on Disaster Preparedness.  You may also contact Monica Greenfield, Program Coordinator for the Department of Professional Services at ACNM, at (240) 485-1844.

American College of Nurse-Midwives
409 12th St SW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20024-2188
Phone: 240.485.1800
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