As Har­vey churns, area birth rates spike

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - CITY | STATE - By Shelby Webb­by­webb

When Gail Saun­ders looked at Trop­i­cal Storm Har­vey’s pro­jected path last weekend, she knew her Me­mo­rial Her­mann Hospi­tal in Katy would be busier than nor­mal.

But in­stead of pre­par­ing for res­i­dents in­jured by winds and flood­ing, Saun­ders, the di­rec­tor of Women’s Ser­vices at Me­mo­rial Her­mann Katy, and oth­ers pre­pared for an in­flux of women ar­riv­ing to give birth.

At least five of Her­mann Me­mo­rial’s 11 Hous­ton area hos­pi­tals with labor and de­liv­ery units re­ported spikes in the num­ber of chil­dren born this week, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials.

In some lo­ca­tions — in­clud­ing those in Katy, the Greater Heights and Me­mo­rial City — hospi­tal work­ers re­ported their num­ber of births dou­bled this week over nor­mal av­er­ages.

Saun­ders said the cor­re­la­tion be­tween storms and an in­crease of women go­ing into labor is a well­known phe­nom­e­non to health­care work­ers but is sci­en­tif­i­cally un­proven.

“When the storms start brew­ing and the baro­met­ric pres­sure changes, that’s when the moth­ers start show­ing up,” Saun­ders said.

She said the num­ber of women com­ing to the Me­mo­rial Her­mann Katy Hospi­tal be­gan to pick up Tues­day. Nor­mally, she and her staff help with be­tween five and six de­liv­er­ies a day. This week, they were as­sist­ing with be­tween 10 and 12 each day.

The spike was even larger at the Me­mo­rial City lo­ca­tion, where a hospi­tal re­ported their num­ber of de­liv­er­ies nearly tripled this week.

Saun­ders told ex­pec­tant moth­ers to pack a to-go bag ahead of any storms, just in case.

“Al­ways make sure to be pre­pared,” Saun­ders said. “Choose a route to get to hospi­tal or a place to get help if you’re un­able to get in. Have all your items packed and ready to go, and take ex­tra pre­cau­tions.”

Hospi­tal of­fi­cials did not know if any ba­bies were named Har­vey af­ter the storm.

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