Do You Know How to Perform CPR on a Pregnant Woman?
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) can occur among every demographic, including pregnant women. It is critical that bystanders and first responders know what to do if an emergency medical crisis does occur. If a pregnant woman receives speedy and efficient care then both the mother and the unborn child can have the best possible chance of survival.
Can You Perform CPR on a Pregnant Woman?
Yes. If a pregnant woman is experiencing cardiac arrest, is imperative to immediately begin CPR. The American Heart Association (AHA) has indicated that “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 bystanders might be reluctant and/or fearful to begin CPR when the patient is visibly pregnant for fear of harming the mother or the baby; it is necessary. CPR is needed for pregnant patients and, as always, it is essential that action is taken quickly. When a patient receives immediate CPR, their odds of survival increase by over 40%––so, it is vital that CPR is administered to pregnant women at the first signs of cardiac arrest.
How Do You Perform CPR on a Pregant Woman?
When performing CPR on a pregnant woman you will need to to follow the same basic principles that you would use for anyone else.
1. Call 911.
As soon as you notice that the pregnant patient is unresponsive and not breathing and/or your hear agonal gasping, quickly dial 911. When speaking to the 9-1-1 operator it is important to advise them that the patient is pregnant so that first responders are aware of the situation.
2. Perform CPR.
While waiting for the first responders to arrive on the scene, you should begin administering CPR to the patient. Make sure that the patient is lying on their 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. There is not a special pregnant CPR position; you can press down on the center of their chest as is standard for any patient who requires CPR. You should perform hard, fast compressions at around 100-120 beats per minute.
3. Use An AED.
AED shocks are considered safe for women at any stage of pregnancy and shouldn’t harm the baby at all. Use of an AED will restart the heart and restore the patient’s regular heart rhythm. If an AED is accessible, turn on the device and follow the instructions given by the device itself. 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.
If at any point the patient becomes responsive, you can position them onto their left side. This will allow for better blood flow to their heart and to the baby.
Why Is It Neccesary to Perform CPR ON A PREGANT WOMAN?
Regardless of the patient or victim demographic, it is imperative to immediately administer CPR whenever you are dealing with an unconscious patient who is unable 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 deprivation of oxygen 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.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA) 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––and the number of patients who experience cardiac arrest outside of the hospital could be much higher. This can be caused by a number of conditions, including heart failure, amniotic fluid embolism, or hemorrhage.
Get Certified With Help-A-Heart CPR
Are you ready to get CPR certified?
Help-A-Heart CPR’s CPR Certification course will cover everything you need to know to provide care and deliver CPR for both pregnant and non-pregnant individuals. The stellar combination of experienced instructors, a "hands on" approach to learning, and a 100% compliance guarantee makes us your perfect partner for CPR training and certification.
With classes offered both onsite and offsite, 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.
To get started, contact us by phone at (210) 380-5344 or online through our contact form. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Dr. Tracy A. Jones is an American Heart Association, ASHI, and American Red Cross Master Program Trainer, Instructor, & AHA Faculty Member located in San Antonio, Texas.