CPR: How to Adapt Techniques for Pregnant Women

A recent study published in the journal Circulation found that out of all adults who suffered from cardiac arrest, only 8% survived. Although some of those individuals were given CPR by bystanders, the vast majority weren't. In fact, about 32% of people who had an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest didn't receive any help at all before emergency responders arrived on the scene. That's where you come in! If you're ever in a situation where someone is having a heart attack, it's important to know how to perform CPR properly — especially if that person is pregnant. By learning about how this procedure should be adapted for pregnant women and then practicing these techniques often before an emergency arises, you'll be able to save lives when it matters most

The ABCs of CPR

The ABCs of CPR are the steps you should follow when giving chest compressions to a person whose heart has stopped beating. The acronym stands for:

  • Airway (clear the airway)
  • Breathing (get air into the lungs)
  • Compressions (push on the chest to circulate blood)

Chest compressions

  • Use a two-handed technique.
  • Place the heel of one hand on the breastbone and use your other hand to support it.
  • Compress at least 2 inches deep, at a rate of 100 compressions per minute (or faster). Keep compressing until help arrives or until you are told by an advanced life support provider to stop because it's no longer effective for saving her life. Avoid compressing over the bottom of her breastbone--that's where her heart is located!

If you're alone and don't have access to an advanced life support provider, call 911 before starting CPR. Remember: ABC: Airway (open), Breathing (breath), Compression (push hard).

Compressions during pregnancy

When performing chest compressions during pregnancy, the woman should be positioned on her back with her legs bent at the knees and her feet flat on the ground. Her belly should be supported by someone else or by a pillow under her back. Make sure you have enough room to give compressions without hitting your hand against something else in the process!

If possible, move any clothing out of the way over your partner's breasts so that they're exposed for easier access when giving chest compressions. Place two fingers in between each breastbone (just below its outer edge), then form a fist with one hand while placing its knuckles over those two fingers--this will allow you to apply pressure directly onto them without having to worry about accidentally hurting yourself or causing injury elsewhere throughout this process!

Breathing for a pregnant woman

If the patient is unresponsive, start with chest compressions. If the patient is responsive, start with breathing. Breathing should be done every 5-6 seconds in a pregnant woman, at a rate of 10 breaths per minute. Only start compressions after you've tried breathing, and do them at a rate of 100 times per minute--the same as in nonpregnant patients (with some exceptions).

To perform CPR on a pregnant woman who needs 2-3 breaths per minute: Place one hand on top of her belly button and one hand under her chin for support; tilt her head back slightly so that she's looking up toward the ceiling rather than forward; place your mouth over hers; blow gently into her lungs until they expand fully; then remove your mouth from hers while continuing to apply pressure on both sides of her rib cage until she starts breathing again on her own

Ventilations for a pregnant woman

  • Use a pocket mask if you have one.
  • If you don't have a pocket mask, use a full-face mask and place it on the woman's face so that her nose and mouth are completely covered by the mask.
  • Check for breathing by placing your hand over her mouth and checking for airflow from both sides of her nose (you should feel gentle air movement). Do not use bag-mask devices; they can create airway obstruction in these cases!

Learn about how to adapt the three steps of CPR 

The ABCs of CPR

  • A - Check for responsiveness. If the person is unresponsive, call for help and begin compressions immediately.
  • B - Begin chest compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 per minute (that's about 2 per second). Adjust this rate according to how quickly you can perform them in a comfortable manner without sacrificing quality or speed, if necessary.
  • C - Continue until the victim responds or medical professionals arrive on the scene to take over care


In conclusion, it's important to remember that the three steps of CPR are not set in stone. You can adapt them to fit your patient's needs and circumstances. For example, if someone is pregnant or has heart disease, then you'll need to make sure that they're getting proper treatment as soon as possible before attempting CPR on them. It's also important for everyone involved in this process-including yourself!-to keep up with their training so that they know what they're doing when faced with an emergency situation like this one


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