As Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc in the U.S. this weekend, I thought a lot about those families with little children forced to evacuate or brave the elements. I also thought of all the pregnant women out there and how they must be faring. Turns out a fair amount were busy giving birth!
Reuters reports that an unusually high number of babies were born in a North Carolina hospital during Friday and Saturday’s storm. In fact, the New Hanover Regional Medical Center was on lockdown during the storm; during that 18-hour stretch, 17 babies were born (the normal daily average is around 10 or 11).
New mom Andi Curtis is one of the women who delivered during the height of the storm. “I fully expected that delivering a baby in August meant it would be hot and muggy. But I never thought hurricane would be an issue,” she told ABC News. “I could see out the window but honestly I really wasn’t paying attention during labor and delivery.”
Experts say the weather itself is what causes some women to go into labor unexpectedly. Dr. Robert Welch, chairman and program director of obstetrician and gynecology at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan, explained to ABC News: “With the fall in barometric pressure seen around these weather events, maternal amniotic membranes (bag of waters) tend to rupture more easily, thus initiating spontaneous labor.”
I would imagine that the stress placed on moms-to-be during a natural disaster (or even a potential one) would have something to do with it, too. Either way, the hospital was thankfully equipped to deal with the surge of deliveries and everyone is reported happy and healthy. Oh, and in case you were wondering, no babies were named “Irene!”