Is It Safe to Perform CPR on a Pregnant Woman?

  • CPR
  • November 27, 2018
  • 3 min read
Is It Safe to Perform CPR on a Pregnant Woman

Cardiac arrest is something that can strike at any time and sadly this includes during pregnancy. Pregnancy does put an extra strain on a woman’s body and this can sometimes, although rarely, trigger cardiac events.

Performing CPR on a pregnant woman can be challenging, but is very much possible. The primary goal of performing CPR on a pregnant woman is to stabilize the mother, as this normally results in the best-case scenario for the child.

Can Pregnancy Cause Cardiac Arrest?

Because the circulatory system of the mother and baby are conjoined during pregnancy, there is an increased need for blood flow within the mother’s body. Heart rates typically increase throughout pregnancy and, by the end of the third trimester, are 10 to 20 beats per minute higher than in an otherwise non-pregnant state.

The chances of this extra strain causing cardiac arrest are very low indeed, with the AHA suggesting that the chances of a pregnant mother going into cardiac arrest are about 1 in 12,000. However, this does not prevent a pregnant woman from going into cardiac arrest due to other factors and there is some evidence that pregnancy can aggravate pre-existing and even undiagnosed heart conditions.

According to the American Heart Association, sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in adults, with more than 325,000 cases being reported each year. Having someone on hand with a working knowledge of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) can make a significant difference in an emergency situation.

If a trained individual is able to start performing CPR on a victim immediately, the victim’s chances of survival increase by more than 40%. On the other hand, for every minute treatment is delayed, the victim’s chances of survival are reduced by 10%.

Can CPR Be Performed on a Pregnant Victim?

Thankfully, the answer is an emphatic yes. CPR can be performed on a pregnant victim. Advice from the Lippincott Nursing Center (LNC) suggests that chest compressions should be performed slightly higher on the sternum for pregnant women.

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The LNC also suggests that it is safe to use defibrillation equipment on pregnant women, as long as all sensors to the body have been detached first. Although it does advise that only trained paramedics should use defibrillation equipment on an expecting mother.

Is the CPR Process Different for Pregnant Women?

The AHA states that CPR administration for pregnant women is the same as a non-pregnant victim. This includes:

  • Compression rate
  • Depth
  • The positioning of the patient
  • Hand placement
  • Use of a firm backboard
  • Minimal interruptions in chest compressions
  • Use of the usual drugs and doses

Learn To Save Lives

Here at Northwest Career College, we are committed to providing affordable, quality CPR classes to the Las Vegas community. We pride ourselves on being an American Heart Association (AHA) testing center and we offer Las Vegas CPR classes designed to fit your personal needs and professional schedule. As part of our “student-focused” approach to education, we also offer our CPR classes free of charge to all of our students. Call us today at (702) 403-1592  to book your CPR class and become qualified to save a life in just 4 hours!

Author avatar
Dr. Thomas Kenny
Chief Compliance Officer