Today's guest blog entry is written by the Florida Maternal and Child Health Preparedness Team, a group of health professionals working to create an emergency preparedness toolkit for pregnant women and children. The team is part of APHA's Maternal and Child Health Community Leadership Institute, a program that helps public health professionals develop leadership approaches to address the health needs of women and children.
Caring for pregnant women and infants during a health threat has become a vital concern. During a pandemic flu outbreak, the number of mothers and babies going to hospitals may make it difficult to manage their needs. Some women and infants will not need urgent care, yet once they are sent out into the community their health status could change. Every hospital and its community should work with local maternal and child health groups to address childbirth and care of women and infants after delivery and create plans in case of an emergency.
The leaders of the American College of Nurse Midwives, Association of Maternal Child Health Programs, White Ribbon Alliance and the Florida Maternal and Child Health Preparedness Team are leading the way by creating guidelines. Guidelines reflect the need for prenatal care to continue and provision of skilled care during birth, as services may become hard to find or out of reach. They must address the care and feeding of newborns and children with special needs.
The need for clear instructions for women who must give birth during any type of crisis with little or no help can be introduced during prenatal visits and childbirth classes. Information should include how to stay healthy, how to gather supplies for a basic birth kit as well as basic birth instructions.
The main concern should also include preventing poor outcomes in both mother and baby. All health workers must be trained in how to protect the health of infants by helping promote breastfeeding. The basic message in infant care and feeding needs is that breastfeeding is the normal method of infant feeding. This will provide a protective effect when supplies are short and waves of flu are long.