A pregnant person is more vulnerable during an emergency for obvious reasons. There are two lives that need to be saved. It is always necessary to prioritise the pregnant person as saving and reviving the women will prevent serious harm to the fetus. This is regardless of the stage of the pregnancy. In some cases, the fetus needs to be equally prioritised and this is usually when the pregnancy is in its last few weeks. There are different kinds of approaches to do first aid on a pregnant person and they vary depending on the emergency and the number of people available to attend to the woman. Here is a comprehensive guide illustrating how to do first aid on a pregnant person.
First Steps to First Aid on a Pregnant Person
The first step is to call emergency services. This is regardless of the nature of the problem or the severity of it. While some cases may not be medical emergencies and the situation may be transient, still it is better to be proactive than latently reactive to call the first responders. Whoever makes the call should inform the operator that there is a pregnant woman in need of immediate help. If there is someone who can gauge or actually known the stage of the pregnancy then such information should also be conveyed. Such details help first responders to plan accordingly. The healthcare professionals may get additional help. They may need some special equipment to be readily available in some cases. The more information you can provide, the better it is for both the pregnant person and the responders.
The second step is to try and give first aid without the help of healthcare professionals. This is actually a simultaneous step. While one person should attend to the pregnant person, someone else should call the emergency services. It is possible there would be only one person at the time so it can be a little difficult to choose between making the call and physically attending to the woman. One can dial emergency services and put the call on speaker as the pregnant woman is attended to at the same time. How one must attend to the emergency without professional help depends on the nature of the emergency. Cardiac arrest or any health complication leading to loss of consciousness and choking are two common incidents that demand first aid. We shall explore both one by one.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation for Pregnant Women
The cardiopulmonary resuscitation procedure is the same for pregnant women as it is for other adults. There are some special needs such as immediate perimortem cesarean delivery or resuscitative hysterotomy that could be inevitable but only professionals can carry out such procedures. These are often needed within five minutes of a cardiac arrest. The standard cardiopulmonary resuscitation can and should start immediately at the time of the cardiac arrest.
A pregnant person should always be laid down on a hard surface. She should lay flat on the back and her face should be in an upward position. This is referred to as supine position wherein the chest compresses effectively and hence resuscitation is more likely to be effective. It is imperative for the process to be initiated as soon as possible and whoever is carrying out the procedure must ensure there is no interruption during the compressions. A person giving first aid should aim for at least a hundred compressions in a minute. These can be split into cycles of thirty compressions with at least two breaths in the interim. The process is always chest compressions first, working the airway and trying to facilitate breathing.
If there are two people available or someone can be called in immediately then one person must carry out the compressions and the other person should carry out left uterine displacement. This is usually required for women who are twenty weeks pregnant or in later stages. Left uterine displacement helps to restore the blood flow to the heart. This process reduces aortocaval compression. It is not very difficult. If the compressions begin to work and there is a visible effect, tilting the woman to her left would increase blood flow and it may help in reviving her. However, giving the compressions in such a tilted position is not always possible or easy. The effect may also vary. So begin with a supine position and do the resuscitation and then go for the tilt to the left for uterine displacement.
First Aid for a Pregnant Person Choking
The same first aid method for choking is used for a pregnant person as for other adults. The only difference is that you should wrap your arms at the chest, above the breast and not around the belly or lower. You must generate a force by sudden collapse of the lungs instead of abdominal thrust that is more commonly given to adults. Wrap your arms under the armpits of the pregnant person. Clasp your hands at the centre of her chest, between the two breasts but above them. Lock one leg between her two legs from behind. Make sure your knuckles are aimed upward. Generate the thrust as rapidly as you can. Extremely sudden and effective thrusts are only possible when the lungs are forced to collapse substantially. A pregnant person may have her airway cleared or she may lose consciousness. If the latter happens, then the immediate next step is cardiopulmonary resuscitation.