As Hurricane Florence brings high winds and flooding waters to the East Coast, it might also bring an increase in births.
Just take it from Susan Pedaline, the chief nursing officer at Cone Health’s Women’s Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina. Pedaline said that “when there is a drop in barometric pressure, it can induce labor” and cause a woman’s water to break, according to 11 Alive News.
Nurses at that North Carolina hospital aren’t the only ones who are worried about an increase in births. Erika Linden, a nurse who manages the Frederick Memorial Hospital’s Labor and Delivery Unit in Maryland, said that her hospital also notices an uptick in women giving birth when the barometric pressure decreases, according to The Frederick News Post.
And while Maryland isn’t expected to get the worst of the hurricane, Linden said, even just the stress caused by the storm can push some expectant mothers into labor, according to The Frederick News Post.
Past research has suggested the low barometric pressure found in hurricanes also seems to induce labor for some pregnant women.
A 2007 study published in The International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics found that when the barometric pressure of an area is low, it brings “a significant increase” in the number of women who go into labor or have their water break.
And a study in The Journal of Reproductive Medicine, this one published in 1985, found that just three hours after barometric pressure fell, there was a noticeable increase in the number of women whose water broke.
The past may offer some validation for that study.
After Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992, more than 1,500 pregnant women were hospitalized throughout the state, according to The Sun Sentinel. A spokeswoman for the Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida said “I’ve never seen so many pregnant people in my entire life” as health officials grappled with the increase of women in labor.
A majority of those hospitalized women were in the last trimester of their pregnancies, according to The Sun Sentinel.
Along with the expected increase in births, Pedaline said nurses at the North Carolina hospital expect to see a second wave of births.
“Another thing that can happen, that I can absolutely predict if we have power outages for an extended period of time?” she said in an interview with 11 Alive News. “Nine months from now we’re going to be significantly busy.”
On Thursday, Hurricane Florence is expected to make its way over North Carolina, then make “a slow motion over eastern South Carolina” starting sometime after Friday night.