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Blizzard Baby: Preparing To Deliver During The Storm

BOSTON — Stories about babies and blizzards go way back. Hospitals often report a baby boom nine or 10 months after a blizzard, but what if you’re due now and wondering if you’ll be able to get to the hospital for a delivery?

Kate Mitchell, pregnant with her first child. Her husband, Marton Balla, took this photo and told his wife, "That basketball looks like a ping-pong ball next to you." (Courtesy of Marton Balla)

Kate Mitchell, pregnant with her first child. Her husband, Marton Balla, took this photo and told his wife, “That basketball looks like a ping-pong ball next to you.” (Courtesy of Marton Balla)

Kate Mitchell from Brookline is expecting her first child, and her due date was Thursday. She’s not worried, perhaps because she studies maternal health around the world and has seen making cases of safe deliveries in difficult conditions. But “the people around me are starting to be a little bit stressed out about the situation,” Mitchell said.

“My parents came over yesterday,” she continued, laughing, “because they were concerned that once the storm hit they wouldn’t be able to make it either to my place or the hospital, so they’re camping out with my husband and I.”

Her mother, Carol Mitchell, was thinking back to Kate’s birth in 1981 in Vienna, Austria, where Kate’s father was a reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Carol Mitchell delivered Kate during a blizzard.

“I’ve been having little chats with the babe in the womb, saying, ‘The purpose of grandchildren is to give paybacks, but this is one payback I don’t want you to give,’ ” the expectant grandmother said.

Friends are sending the Mitchells online instructions — jokes mostly — about how to deliver a baby at home. One of Kate’s neighbors asked another neighbor, a doctor, if he might be available in case of an emergency.

“The doctor neighbor told him that he didn’t really know anything about delivering babies, and would prefer not to be involved in a home birth,” Mitchell said. “But he assured us that Brookline Police are fully ready and equipped to escort laboring women to the hospital.”

Mitchell planned to go to Newton Wellesley Hospital but may opt for Brigham and Women’s because it’s closer. The Brigham will double as a hotel Friday night for 175-200 nurses, doctors and other staffers who need a place to get some sleep before beginning another shift.

“We have emergency cots available. Also there are additional hospital beds. Then in some cases people will use office space or couches or recliners that we have around the facility,” said Barry Wante, the director of emergency services at Brigham and Women’s. Wante said the Brigham and other hospitals have been putting contingency plans in motion all week.

“The good news is that we’ve had plenty of notice about the prediction of the storm to allow people to make those decisions,” Wante said.

Across Greater Boston, hospitals plan to stay open during the storm. Boston EMS and other ambulance services said they are ready with tire chains and their own plows, if necessary, to get Mitchell and other emergency patients to a hospital.

The Massachusetts Associaton of Health Plans (MAHP) said insurers will, in some cases, pay for an early admission for mothers who are worried they won’t get to a hospital in time.

“Plans cover medically necessary services and if a provider deemed it necessary to admit the expectant mother, then it is likely that a plan would cover the admission,” MAHP Senior Vice President Eric Linzer said.

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