How to perform CPR – Pregnancy

If you’re in an emergency, call (000).

Find out how to perform CPR on someone pregnant by following the guide below. You can also go to specific guides on CPR for adults, children and infants. Please note – the information provided below is not a substitute for first aid training.

How to determine if CPR is necessary

The DRSABCD action plan is a structured way of assisting a casualty. It includes vital steps such as assessing for danger, checking for a response, sending for help, clearing and opening the airway, and checking for breathing.

The Basic Life Support chart below shows all the critical steps leading up to performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Pregnancy Basic Life Support - DRSABCD Flowchart

Pregnancy BLS chart (printable A2 & smaller)

Step-by-step guide

After having followed the DRSABCD plan, follow the steps below.

CPR is performed at a ratio of 30:2 (30 chest compressions + 2 rescue breaths).

Chest compressions

1. Place the casualty on a firm surface on their back. If possible, wedge padding such as a cushion, towel or similar object under their right hip to tilt the hips about 15°-30° while leaving their shoulders flat to the ground. Kneel beside them.

2. Place the heel of one hand on the lower half of the sternum. Place your other hand on top.

Pregnancy CPR - chest compressions, hand positioning

3. Straighten your arms and position yourself over the casualty’s chest.

4. Use the weight of your body to press straight down onto their chest by ⅓ the depth of the chest, which is generally more than 5 cm.

CPR Guide - pregnant woman - chest compressions

5. Release the pressure. Allow for a full chest recoil by lifting your hands slightly off the chest between each compression. Pressing down and releasing comprises one compression. The time spent on chest compressions and release phases should be equal.

6. Perform 30 chest compressions hard and fast, at a rate of almost 2 compressions per second or 100-120 per minute. It is helpful to count aloud.

Rescue breaths (mouth-to-mouth)

After the 30 compressions, give 2 rescue breaths.

1. Open the casualty’s airway. Ensure the head is tilted back and the chin is lifted by placing one hand on their forehead and the other hand under their chin to tilt the head back.

CPR Guide - pregnant woman - tilt head

2. Use your index finger and thumb to pinch closed the soft part of the casualty’s nose. Use your other hand to open the casualty’s mouth.

CPR Guide - pregnant woman - open airways

3. Take a breath and with your mouth form a tight seal over the casualty’s mouth. Blow at a steady rate for about 1 second, and look for the chest to rise. Now look for the chest to fall. Repeat and give a second rescue breath.

CPR Guide - pregnant woman - mouth to mouth

If the chest does not rise, make sure:

  • The casualty is positioned properly.
  • The airway is not obstructed by a foreign body – if it is – remove it.
  • The nose is pinched closed to prevent any air from escaping and you maintain a tight seal with the casualty’s mouth.

One cycle of CPR consists of 30 compressions + 2 rescue breaths.

Keep repeating this process and aim to do 5 cycles of CPR in roughly 2 minutes. 

Giving life-saving CPR is tiring. If you have another person to help you, swap with minimal interruption, so they give compressions and rescue breaths every 5 cycles.

Using an AED

Where an AED is available, turn it on and attach pads or have a bystander attach them so you can continue doing compressions. Follow the AED’s instructions. An AED will analyse heart rhythm every 2 minutes. It may or may not give a shock. Continue to give CPR in between each analysis cycle.

Find out more about using an AED.

AED for pregnant woman - defibrillator pad positioning
Continue performing CPR until:

  • the person responds or resumes breathing normally
  • it is impossible to continue e.g. due to exhaustion
  • a health care professional takes over or directs that CPR be ceased (don't stop until they tell you)
  • it is too dangerous to continue

If the casualty resumes normal breathing then place them in the Recovery Position and monitor breathing until help arrives.

Recovery position - pregnant woman

The recovery position for a pregnant person is performed on the left-hand side of the body. If this is not possible due to injury the casualty should be placed on the right-hand side with a towel or cushion wedged under the belly.

Pregnancy CPR chart (printable A2 & smaller)

DisclaimerThis article is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute, replace, or qualify as any form of first aid training.

Other CPR Resources

Visit the Australia Wide First Aid CPR Library for even more information, guides and downloadable resources.

Location Near You

Close