Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, commonly known as CPR is an emergency medical procedure performed on some who has had a cardiac arrest. CPR manually restores the functions of the brain, and measures are taken to ensure that the breathing and blood circulation in the patient is resumed to normal levels. CPR is administered in patients whose breathing is abnormal, or who are unresponsive and not breathing.
CPR During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a stressful journey for many, and complications just make it worse. Hemorrhage, infections, and pregnancy induced hypertension are some of the conditions that can make a pregnant woman suffer a cardiac arrest. This life threatening condition can occur anytime during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or depressed post partum period. In such a case, a CPR under able medical team and with necessary precautions is performed on a pregnant woman, to resuscitate and minimise dangers to two lives.
What Can Cause The Need For CPR in Pregnant Women?
To accommodate the growing baby, a woman’s body undergoes multiple changes from time to time. Understanding the physiological can help responding effectively to resuscitate.
Physiological Stressors During Pregnancy
- Uterine Changes: The most dramatic changes happening in a pregnant woman’s body are in the uterus. Just after the first trimester the uterus grows large enough to move into the abdominal cavity and also displaces the other organs in the abdomen – like the lungs, intestines, and the stomach
- Gastrointestinal Changes: Constipation, heartburn, acidity, etc are common problems of pregnant woman. Pregnancy hormones relax the muscles resulting in slower movement of the intestinal produce and relax the cardiac sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach. Acidic contents of the stomach can cause damage to the lung tissues, making a pregnant woman feel full in the stomach all the time and put her at the risk of aspiration
- Respiratory Changes: Oxygen is required by the growing fetus to develop. Oxygen requirements of both the mother and the baby increase and this causes slight increment in the respiratory rate of a pregnant woman. The consumption of oxygen by a pregnant woman goes up by 20%. Additionally, a pregnant woman’s diaphragm gets displaced to make way for the growing fetus. This makes the pregnant women breathe more rapidly, and sometimes a slight respiratory distress in pregnancy can cause a dramatic result
- Cardiovascular Changes: Pregnancy causes physiological anemia due to increased blood volume but not corresponding to the red cell volume. Where the blood volume goes up by 50%, red cell volume goes up only by 30%. A pregnant woman’s heart rate increases by 15%, and her cardiac output by 35% – 40% in order to move that increased volume
Owing to these pregnancy changes in a woman, in the event of a cardiac arrest, her medical history and a team of highly qualified members make all the difference. The survival of the mother and infant is dependent on all these factors.
CPR Instructions for Pregnant Women
In case you know someone close who is pregnant and also suffers from pregnancy-induced-hypertension, it is wise to know how to keep up with the oxygen supply for both the mother and the baby(ies) until medical help arrives. Husbands should definitely know about administering a CPR on their pregnant wives, if such a need arises.
Steps to administer CPR on a Pregnant Woman
- Step 1:Shout and try getting a response from the woman. Ask her if she needs anything. Call the ambulance alongside, or tell someone else around for emergency help
- Step 2:Roll the pregnant woman, making her lean on her left side, at an angle of 45 degrees and look for signs of any injury
- Step 3:Tuck blankets and pillows to support her back and right side. Ensure that the weight of the baby does not fall on the back as this can cause some serious long term problems
- Step 4:Now look if the woman is breathing, look at her chest, bring your ear and mouth towards her nose and feel if she is breathing. If the pulse is missing, begin CPR
- Step 5:Just below the middle of her breasts, press both your palms, one above the other. Press 30 times in about 20 seconds
- Step 6:Hold her nose and close it with your fingers. Now breathe two one second breaths into her mouth and lungs
- Step 7:Get back to chest compressions, and repeat pumping breaths into her. Repeat till help arrives
- Step 8:When the help arrives, tell them about the pregnancy, and help them with all the possible reports so that they can arrive on what to do to save the baby and the mother
The human CPR process is same for an adult person as it is for a pregnant woman. Chest compressions and mouth breaths provide oxygen to the body and encourage blood circulation.