How do I Perform Neonatal CPR?

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  • Written By: Lindsey Rivas
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2019
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Neonatal CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, can be lifesaving, but in order to avoid causing further harm to the infant, it is best performed by those who are trained. You should consider taking a CPR training course to become certified in giving it. In case of emergency, neonatal CPR involves opening the infant’s airway, giving two rescue breaths, and performing 30 chest compressions. It is also important for someone to call the local medical emergency phone number while you perform CPR. If regular breathing, coughing, or movement does not occur in the infant, continue CPR until trained medical help arrives.

These instructions should not take the place of getting proper training in neonatal CPR. There are many places throughout the world that offer CPR classes and certification. The courses allow you to learn and practice the appropriate techniques since doing them incorrectly can actually cause more harm to the child.

When done properly, neonatal CPR can save the life of an infant. Time is very important because just four minutes without oxygen can lead to permanent brain damage, and death can occur in less than six minutes. You might need to perform CPR in cases where an infant is not breathing, has no pulse, or is unconscious.


Next, place the infant on his back. If you suspect he might have a spinal injury, it is better to have two people move him to keep the head and neck from twisting. Open the infant’s airway by lifting his chin with one hand and tilting his head back with the other hand gently pushing on his forehead. Be careful not to tip the head too far back because overextending the neck can close the airway.

Check to see if the infant is breathing for about 10 seconds. Listen closely at his mouth and nose, and look to see if his chest is moving. Also, check if you can feel his breath on your cheek. If there is no breathing, then you can begin rescue breaths.

In order to give rescue breaths, use your mouth to cover the infant’s mouth and nose, or just cover the nose and hold the mouth shut. Make sure the head is still tilted and the chin is lifted. Give two breaths by exhaling into the infant’s lungs, making each breath last about one second. Make sure the infant’s chest rises when you exhale, and let the air flow back out of his lungs between each breath.

If the child is still not breathing or moving, the next step in performing neonatal CPR is to do chest compressions with one hand while keeping his the head tilted with your other hand. Use two fingers on his breastbone just below the nipples so that your top finger is placed along an imaginary line going across the infant’s nipples. Press down smoothly so that the chest compresses about one-third the depth of the chest, or approximately one-half inch (1-2 cm). Perform 30 chest compressions, which should be done quickly with no pauses, and make sure the chest rises completely in between compressions. If the infant has normal breathing, do not give chest compressions, as they can cause the heart to stop beating.

After doing 30 chest compressions, give two more rescue breaths. Continue to perform neonatal CPR by alternating two breaths with 30 chest compressions. After two minutes, you can call the emergency medical phone number if you are alone. Keep doing CPR until trained medical help arrives or until the child is breathing on his own.


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