The importance of knowing infant CPR
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Do you know basic first aid for your child? You probably do, whether you took a class on it, were a girl scout/boy scout or you just learned how to treat basic cuts and scrapes from good old experience. But what about if your child were choking (or anyone, for that matter)? I'm sure we've all seen at least one act of heroism on television where someone performs the Heimlich maneuver on a victim and saves that person's life.
What if the occasion arose, right along with your adrenaline, though, and you had to perform? Could you do it? Would you even know what to do? What about if, god forbid, something worse happened? What if you found your child unconscious. The first thing you'd do is panic, but what about after that? Again, many of us have seen CPR performed on television and in the movies and generally the victim is saved. While I commend showing such acts of bravery and heroism on screen I wonder if that is the best learning tool for saving our children.
Last night I found the answer to my question by attending an infant CPR/child safety class at a local hospital. The class was run by a professional who is an RN, MSN, CCES. I don't know what all that stands for, but this woman really knows her stuff. The class was $75 per person. I attended while my husband stayed home with our son. At $75 per person and me not currently working, the cost was steep. That said, it was the easiest $75 I've ever spent, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was also probably the most important $75 I'll ever spend.
What I learned in the class went beyond basic procedures. I learned how to handle everything from allergic reactions, bites (animal and insect), burns, abrasions, fever, poisoning and sprains. I learned what to look for, how to treat such things, and when to call the pediatrician or 911. I learned how to childproof my home. I also learned how to dislodge something from an infant or child's throat and how to perform life-saving CPR.
As a side note, anyone less than a year old is considered an infant; anyone over one year of age but less than eight is considered a child; anyone over age eight is considered an adult for choking purposes. With infants you use the back blows and chest compressions; with anyone over a year you use the Heimlich maneuver.
I walked away from that class, which was around two hours long with no beating around the bush, with two valuable things. First, I learned how to do something; even if I wasn't doing everything exactly right I was doing something which is better than freaking out and doing nothing,. Freaking out only wastes time and can cost a child his or her life. Second, and perhaps more important, I learned that I could indeed save my son's life, or anyone's, really, or at least keep them going until help arrived, by using some simple procedures. In other words, the power was in my hands.
Since the day I found out I was pregnant I have been haunted by the fear associated with losing my child. I was so scared I wasn't able to sleep in the beginning. I still have that fear and it's been nearly three months since my son was born. I am--or, was--absolutely terrified that I could lose him, to the point where I would cry at least once a day with the prospect of losing him.
Now that I have these invaluable tools--how to save someone from choking and how to perform CPR--I don't have quite the same fear. I hope I never have to use these tools but at least I'll be prepared should, god forbid, the need arise.
When I first walked into the class I noticed i was not alone in my sentiment. All the other parents--and there were a ton of them, which was refreshing to see--seemed to be as freaked out as I was about the whole thing. Parents don't want to think about the horrible things that can happen to their children. They avoid discussing it and they say things like "I can't imagine..." when in fact they are imagining and then freaking out because if something did happen they would be unprepared to handle it. Not so anymore, at least not for those of us attending last night's class.
So here is what I say. I'm not much of an advice giver, being so new to this mommy thing. What I do know is that taking that class gave me the confidence to handle a situation should it arise, to know what to do and to try not to panic. I think the very least we can do as parents is arm ourselves against the unknown. In this case, knowledge is power, the power to save a life.
I'm still scared as hell that something could happen to my son. I know I always will be until the day I die. But learning what to do in a scary situation, practicing the steps and reading my manual to remind myself of tips makes me less so. And being less scared gives me more emotional time to be filled with love and joy for my son.