Can You Perform CPR on a Pregnant Woman?
The first question is "Can you perform CPR on a pregnant woman"? Yes. If a pregnant woman is experiencing cardiac arrest, you absolutely should perform CPR. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), “Resuscitation of the pregnant woman, including PMCD when indicated, is the first priority because it may lead to increased survival of both the woman and the fetus.”
While it makes complete sense that that bystanders may be hesitant to perform CPR when the patient is noticeable pregnant simply of of fear of harming the mother or the baby. However, it is important to know that CPR is still recommended for pregnant patients and immediate action is necessary. When a patient receives immediate CPR, their odds of survival increase by over 40% Subsequently, it is vital that CPR is administered to a pregnant women when signs of cardiac arrest first become noticeable.
How do you perform CPR ON A PREGNANT WOMAN?
1. Call 911 or EMS.
Upon recognition that the pregnant woman or victim is unresponsive and not breathing, immediately call 911. Next, while you are speaking to the 911 dispatcher please ensure that you let them know that the patient is pregnant so that first responders are prepared and aware of the essentials for this medical emergency.
2. Perform CPR
Next, while waiting for the emergency personnel to arrive on the scene, you should begin administering CPR to the individual. Make sure that the pregnant woman is lying on her back in the supine position on a flat, hard surface like the ground or the floor. You’ll need to open the airway and confirm that the patient is not breathing properly. Then, begin delivering chest compressions. A special position for administering compressions is not needed for the pregnant woman so you can press down on the center of their chest as is standard for any patient who requires CPR. Lastly, perform hard, fast compressions at around 100-120 beats per minute and at a depth of around 2 inches or slightly more.
3. Use an AED
When the AED arrives at the scene, it is important to immediately use it. First, turn on the device and follow the audible prompts provided by the AED. The device will either instruct you to deliver the defibrillation shock or to continue with CPR if it assesses that a shock is not necessary. The implementation of AED shocks are considered safe for women at any stage of pregnancy and harm to the baby is not statistically nor medically foreseeable. Thus, the AED is used to potentially restart the heart and restore the patient’s regular heart rhythm. Lastly, if at any point the patient becomes responsive, the pregnant woman can be positioned on their left side. This position will allow for better blood flow to their heart and to the baby.
Why is it important to provide cpr to a pregnant woman?
Whether a pregnant woman or a non-pregnant individual, you should administer CPR immediately in the event that you are medically assisting an unconscious victim who is not able to breathe. When a patient is in cardiac arrest, their bodies are not delivering an adequate supply of blood to the brain and other organs. For any patient, this can lead to serious complications.
In pregnant women, this could potentially impact the health of the fetus. When a patient is pregnant, they require 30-50% more blood flow in order to accommodate both the mother’s and the baby’s needs. Because of this, “pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to oxygen deprivation caused by cardiac arrest.” As such, in the event of cardiac arrest, CPR is critical so that blood flow is restored and the patient and fetus continue receiving oxygen.
The AHA explains that pregnant women are experiencing cardiac arrest at an increasing rate, and around 1 in 12,000 admissions for delivery in the U.S. results in a maternal cardiac arrest. These increasing statistics involving cardiac arrest among pregnant women are thought to be caused by a number of conditions, including heart failure, amniotic fluid embolism, or hemorrhage.
Get CPR certified WITH HELP-A-HEART CPR
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Our CPR and First Aid certification courses at Help-A-Heart CPR will cover everything you need to know to provide care while administering CPR to both pregnant and non-pregnant individuals. Our professionally trained and experienced instructors and engaging and hands-on learning environments provide an empowering and educational experience for every student.
With a wide selection of class day and time options, it’s easy to fit training into your busy schedule. If you would like to get your entire workplace or team trained at once, we’re happy to provide a quote for group CPR training. Or, you can explore our online BLS course options for a hybrid certification with a short skills check with one of our instructors at our office.
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Dr. Tracy A. Jones is the CEO of Help-A-Heart CPR, LLC and an American Heart Association, ASHI, and American Red Cross Master Program Trainer, Instructor, & AHA Faculty Member located in San Antonio, Texas.