second ever blog post was about my little baby, who at 3 months old stopped breathing. Not once, but twice! She had what the hospital called 'Acute Life Threatening Events' or ALTE for short, and they are more common than you think.
At just a few days shy of three months old my little girl was having her normal bedtime routine which included a small amount of syringe-fed Gripe Water to help with her reflux. My husband was feeding it to her while I went to prepare her bassinet for sleep. I heard a yell from the lounge room and went running in. I knew immediately something wasn't right. She was choking on the gripe water. I looked at my little koala and she looks drained of colour. Her eyes still and bulging. I could see her fear. She wasn't breathing.
I screamed. My husband says it was the most terrifying scream he had ever heard. I immediately called the ambulance while my husband put the her face down over his arm and hits her on the back. Luckily she came round just as the ambulance was arriving. The ambulance officers checked her over and monitored her for about an hour but she seemed fine by then so we didn't go to the hospital. What saved her - my husband had recently completed his First Aid refresher and knew what to do.
Three days later, I was burping her after a breastfeed as usual when it happened again. My husbands First Aid training kicked in again and he brought her around, but this time we took no chances and headed straight to the hospital. We were admitted for monitoring for a few days and were informed she had experienced an Acute Life Threatening Event (ALTE) probably due to her reflux and her windpipe had just shut off as liquid came back up. They gave us a crash course in infant resuscitation and tried to reassure us that this was unlikely to happen again. I still didn't sleep for a few weeks though.
One thing that sticks in my mind almost a year later was when the ambulance officer's told us that they get a call about 'baby not breathing' at least once a week. Once a week! That's a lot of little babies that need resuscitating. Do you know how to resuscitate a baby if you had to?
We are the lucky ones. Our little girl is still here and still as vibrant as ever. I still cry when I think about how close we came to losing her.
My mother and I recently attended a CPR for Parents course held at our town library run by the local council. I was surprised I wasn't the only one at the session who's baby had experienced an ALTE. Luckily for both of us, our husbands had both been first aid trained and knew what to do when our babies stopped breathing. These had been choking episodes and luckily didn't get to the stage of needing CPR to be administered. After another scare a few weeks ago where my little Koala was very sick, had a choking episode related to being sick and ended up in hospital, I'm again thinking about the importance of know what to do in an emergency.
I'm not an expert so please please please go and get yourself First Aid trained! But my big take-away facts from my CPR for Parents session were:
- One in 20 people may have to administer CPR at some point in their life. That's surprisingly higher than I thought and all the more reason to make sure you know what you're doing.
- Remember DRSABCD - Danger, Response, Send for Help, Airways, Breathing, CPR, Defibrillation.
- Any CPR is better than no CPR! In Australia we are luckily protected by the Good Samaritan Act which means if we give CPR to someone and save their life, but break one of their ribs - they (probably) can't sue us. Apparently, not every country has this Good Samaritans Act though sadly, but the big lesson is, CPR can save someone's life. In Australia we are taught to give two breaths followed by compressions but even if you don't give the 2 breathes and just give compressions, that is better than no CPR at all. Not giving CPR will most likely be fatal, but giving bad CPR means you have a much better chance of saving someone's life!
- Start CPR as soon as possible and keep going til the ambulance can get there.
- CPR on a baby or child is much the same as CPR on an adult with a few key difference. According to St Johns Ambulance, you cover their nose and mouth when giving breaths, don't tilt their heads right back like with an adult and use 2 fingers for compressions.
Many First Aid Training providers have great fact sheets on basic first aid like CPR, like St Johns Ambulance. Head over to their website to have a look. It's also a good idea to learn the difference between first aid on adults and children.
Have you done a first aid course? Have you had to use the skills you learnt?
I am not an expert, but I am going to endeavour to make sure I know what to do in an emergency and I hope you all do too!
Note: Just saying again, I am not an expert in CPR, so please go get yourself trained!
The Ultimate Rabbit Hole