The condition of pregnancy requires much more demand from the heart and lungs for women, especially in the later stages, and underlying cardiac problems may occur from this increased workload. In addition, women may experience electric shock, near drowning or other accidents that may cause anyone to suffer a cardiac arrest. Although CPR on a pregnant victim is performed similar to those who are not— the major difference is that two lives at risk. If the mother’s heart is not beating, the fetal heart rate has also stopped. A pregnant woman and her unborn baby have approximately four-six minutes to survive without oxygen. Take a CPR training class and learn how to save the lives of mother and child with CPR.
Rescue Breathing on a Pregnant Woman
If you suspect a pregnant woman is unresponsive or you have witnessed her collapse, gently tap her shoulder and call out her name. If she does not respond, instruct someone else to call 911 and follow these CPR guidelines:
- Place her on her back and straighten her body
- Open the airway by pushing down on the forehead with one hand and gently opening the jaw with the other
- Look, listen and feel for the movement of air from her lungs
- If the victim is not breathing, give two quick rescue breaths
- If your breaths have not caused the chest to rise and fall, reposition the victims head and attempt rescue breathing again.
Chest Compressions on a Pregnant Woman
When performing chest compressions on a pregnant woman, the correct hand placement is vital to the protection of the unborn baby. Improper compressions over the abdomen can injure the baby and fail to increase the circulation of blood and oxygen that is required to save the life of the mother.
- Ensure that the heel of one hand is placed over the breastbone or sternum, directly between the nipples. Place the other hand over the hand positioned on the breastbone and intertwine the fingers so your compressions don’t drift off the victim’s chest.
- With your back and arms in a straight position, begin 30 quick chest compressions at a depth of about two to three inches.
- Position the mother’s head and provide two rescue breaths.
- Resume chest compressions and quickly check for breathing or a pulse after five cycles of CPR or approximately two minutes.
Do Not Pause or Stop CPR
It is imperative that CPR continues without any interruption while waiting for your local emergency response team to arrive. If you are getting tired from performing compressions, switch with another person on cue without creating a pause in the CPR cycle. Ensure that no compressions are performed over the mother’s abdomen and protect the unborn baby from unintentional harm.