It’s been one rainy Houston summer. And it’s got us thinking ahead as we go through hurricane season in the midst of a pandemic.
Experiencing a natural disaster or emergency can take a toll on someone’s overall health. From one’s mental health to one’s physical health. For many women, natural disasters may even take a toll on their reproductive health.
According to an article by the Population Reference Bureau, the 2017 hurricane season in the United States caused an estimated $200 billion in damage.
For those wanting to get pregnant, natural disasters can affect how they plan a family. During Hurricane Katrina, fertility rates among the New Orleans Black population were 4% expected levels after recovery while fertility rates of non-Hispanic White populations increased by 4%. It’s important to note that communities mostly, populated by Black folks, recovered at a much slower rate than non-Black communities.
For those preventing a pregnancy, preparing for an emergency can mean stocking up on items like Plan B emergency contraception, condoms, and even delaying doctor’s appointments. For mothers, navigating post-partum during or after an emergency is challenging. It can mean encountering a shortage of items such as diapers or formula or not knowing where to seek care after a natural disaster.
So what can be done to prioritize our reproductive health during times of emergency? It’s hard to predict when an emergency can happen but what we can do now is be prepared in small ways such as ordering a free Just In Case kit or scheduling that doctor’s appointment now.
Lastly. it’s important to continue advocating for reproductive justice in our communities to ensure we can recover safely.