When I was expecting my first child I remember my childbirth class instructor suggesting everyone take a CPR course. At the time I was a practicing EMT, so I was already certified and didn't think much of it. A few months later I belonged to a post partum group and someone I knew from the Fire Service came to discuss why parents should take a CPR class. Attending a CPR class is a really good idea, but how many new parents are able to fit it in with everything else that needs to be done before the baby arrives? We all know how to call 911 and in many areas the 911 dispatcher will provide EMD - Emergency Medical Dispatching. But how well would we be able to follow the dispatchers directions to provide effective CPR?
Recently a study was done in England. Volunteers from a prenatal class were provided a telephone and an infant mannequin and instructed that they had just discovered an unresponsive infant. They were told to call for help and to follow the dispatcher's instructions. Despite changes made a few years ago to make CPR easier to explain and perform, the volunteers did not perform CPR effectively. The study concluded that emergency CPR instruction over the phone needed improvement and that new parents in a real emergency would probably perform infant CPR less effectively than the study participants. (AHA Currents Winter 2008-09 citing Resuscitation, 2008; 76:63-68)
In a true emergency we panic, even professionals will panic if it is a member of their own family. A CPR class can give a new parent confidence so that if an emergency happens, and if they do panic, they will know to call 911 and that the 911 dispatcher's instructions will help them to remember what they practiced in their class.
A CPR class is a good, hands-on way to learn CPR. But for many expecting or new parents, finding the time (and possibly a sitter) to attend a class is difficult at best. One method to assist new parents is the American Heart Association's CPR Anytime program. Parents can purchase a DVD and inflatable mannequin and in 25 minutes of following the directions on the DVD they can learn the steps of infant CPR.
Many Hospitals and Fire Departments offer CPR courses. Some have instructors who will provide private courses for you. I offer private in-home courses for new parents in my home or theirs, it is a great way to learn in the comfort of your home, but also having someone there to answer questions or really critique how you are practicing the skills.
If you have any questions on Infant CPR feel free to contact me! I am the owner of Coastal CPR & First Aid. I'm a mom of 4, an American Heart Association Instructor and a part-time Emergency Dispatcher. I offer private in-home and corporate CPR and First Aid classes. You can learn more about my business on my website, www.coastalcpr.com.