Pregnancy can put a strain on the normal body functions because it’s a case of two people depending on one working body system. This can sometimes lead to cardiac events though this happens on rare occasions. How do you handle a pregnant woman with a cardiac arrest? Can you do CPR on a pregnant woman?

Yes, you can conduct CPR on a pregnant woman although this can be a challenging exercise and must be done with a trained professional. It must also be done if CPR is the only restoration option available. The primary objective of conducting CPR is to save the child’s and mother’s life.

Can a pregnant woman suffer from cardiac arrest

A pregnant woman is a two in one person where the bodily functions of the unborn are dependent on the mother’s systems. Because the circulatory system of the mother and the unborn are conjoined, there’s always a need for blood to flow through the mother’s system. The heart rates normally change based on the pregnancy stage. According to American Heart Association (AHA), by the third trimester, the heart rate is about 10 to 20 times higher than the normal pregnant woman heart rate.

AHA further states that the extra train on the woman’s heart is less likely to cause cardiac arrest. The estimated case scenario is 1 in 1200 cases is likely to experience such cases. However, this does not imply that such cases are not completely impossible. Other than causing new cardiac issues the extra strain as a result of pregnancy is likely to aggravate pre - existing heart conditions.

It is, however, not important to take chances for such cases because these are two lives in question here - the mother and child. It is important to have a trained bystander on site to take care of emergency situations. Every minute delay in administering CPR reduces the victim’s chances of survival by 10% and having one on site increases the victims chances by 40%.

Can you do CPR on a pregnant woman?

As detailed above, the answer is a straight yes! According to the Lippincott Nursing Center ( LNC) chest compressions for pregnant women should be done slightly higher, above the sternum to be precise.

It is also safe to use defibrillation equipment for pregnant women but you must detach the sensors from the body first. However, this procedure must be done by a trained professional to ensure it’s safe.

Can you do CPR on a pregnant woman with pre - existing conditions

It depends on the kind of pre - existing conditions in play. For women with cases of previous heart attack, this must be done with a trained professional because the extent of the strain on body systems is increased with the pregnancy.

However, for other underlying cases such as STDs that do not have any direct relations with the cardiovascular system, CPR can be conducted like in normal cases.

Is CPR Done Differently for Pregnant Women?

According to American Heart Association, CPR should be done the same way as non - pregnant victims. This should include;

  • Chest compressions with minimal interruptions.
  • Heart patient positioning
  • Hand placement
  • Use of normal drugs and doses
  • Compression rate


The cases of cardiac arrests are rare in pregnant women but should such a scenario occur, the CPR should be handled by a trained professional. A pregnant woman has two lives in one and anything that can compromise one of them should be avoided at all costs.


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