How and where to learn neonatal resuscitation

I've received some inquiries about how to gain neonatal resuscitation skills, especially for non-health professionals. If there's one kind of preparation I'd recommend for all pregnant women, it's learning the basics of neonatal resuscitation. Just like we all (should!) know how to perform infant resuscitation or adult CPR or the Heimlich maneuver, we should know the basics of neonatal resuscitation. Because--as Inga's birth story illustrates--you never know when you're going to need it.

Most likely your baby will be born healthy and will breathe on its own. Most likely you'll make it to the hospital or birth center on time, or your midwife will arrive before the birth. Most likely your baby won't be born in the car, or in the subway, or on your bathroom floor when you were planning otherwise.

But...what if the birth doesn't happen as planned? That's where having some neonatal resuscitation training can be a lifesaver.

So how and where can you learn these skills? If you can afford it, take a Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) workshop. Before the course, you study the textbook and take an online exam. Then you come to the workshop--typically one full day--for hands-on instruction with life-size dolls and medical equipment. Since maternity care providers are required to stay current with their NR skills, the workshops are fairly easy to find. One problem a lay person might encounter is being able to register for the course; some are limited to health care professionals only.

In the States, the Neonatal Resuscitation Program is sponsored through the AAP; click here to locate a course or instructor. Canada's NRP program is sponsored by the Canadian Pediatric Society; click here to locate courses. Many instructors do not list their courses online, so also make inquiries through your local hospitals, birth centers, or home birth midwives. 

I highly recommend Karen Strange's Newborn Breath workshop. She travels all over the States teaching NRP from an out-of-hospital perspective. You'll learn everything you need to know to pass the exam and become certified, but you'll also learn these things with the assumption that you'll be in a home or birth center setting, that you won't be cutting or clamping the cord, that you'll be resuscitating on or near the mother, etc. Karen Strange is a quirky, fun instructor and keeps the class very lively. If you want her to come to your area, you can sponsor a workshop. Her workshop costs $220, plus the textbook (~$38 used/$55 new) and online exam fee ($23.50).

What if there is no NRP class in your area, or if you can't afford one? Hook up with local midwives and learn the skills from them. Buy or ILL textbooks and study as much as you can. At a bare minimum, learn how and when to perform mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions on a newborn--before your third trimester. Still, nothing can substitute for up-to-date, hands-on training, which is why I strongly suggest taking a NRP workshop.

My NRP baby...now in pigtails!


 
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