As parents-to-be, you've got a lot to do before the arrival of your baby. You're decking out the nursery, loading up on newborn supplies, taking childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant care classes. Sure, for the most part, you've got it covered, but if you haven't signed up for an infant CPR class, you're missing an essential, possibly life-saving, opportunity.
Not to alarm you, but choking is the leading cause of death in children under the age of 4, with one child dying every five days in the US after choking on food. But thankfully, if your baby should start choking or stop breathing, you don't have to stand around waiting helplessly for the paramedics to arrive -- you, as a parent, can take matters into your own hands and save your child's life. Knowing that, why wouldn't you want to arm yourself with the tools to step up when your baby needs you?
Last night, my husband and I took an infant CPR class (one of the many I've loaded us up on). It was offered by the hospital where we're delivering our babies. Before even getting into the nitty-gritty of CPR though, we were schooled on a whole range of other important safety issues, including baby-proofing (and poison control), proper installation of a car seat, and earthquake preparedness with an infant (I am in California). It was need-to-know information that, up until last night, we had no idea about. We were learning so much already!
Then, we moved on to CPR and learned what to do if we discovered our baby wasn't breathing. Now, I have taken CPR probably three or four times in my life (maybe because I watched too much ER back in the day), but it took on a whole new gravity when I realized that, should something happen, it would absolutely fall on me to save my baby's life. The steps are simple: you give his chest 30 deep compressions with your fingertips, followed by two breaths to fill his little lungs (covering his nose and mouth with your own mouth). And you repeat the cycle until he starts breathing again or paramedics have arrived.
Afterwards, we learned what to do if your baby is choking. This was a little more tricky, but still, straightforward enough. If it seems like your baby is choking (signs include difficulty breathing, inability to cry, cough, or make noise, a bluish color to the skin, a high-pitched sound when the baby is trying to breathe in, or if he becomes unconscious), you have to attempt to dislodge whatever is stuck with a combination of strong blows between his shoulder blades and chest compressions. This video demonstrates it best:
Hopefully none of us will ever have to use these techniques on our children, or any child, for that matter. But knowledge is power, and if a three-hour class can save your baby's life, there's really no excuse not to take it ... now, before your baby comes, while you have the time! The Red Cross offers CPR courses all over the country, so find a class in your area, block out a few hours on a weekend or weeknight, and take comfort in knowing that, in the unlikely event that the worst happens, you'll be well-prepared to act.
Do you plan on taking an infant CPR class or have you taken one already? Did you find it helpful?
Image via petrr/Flickr