Understanding neonatal resuscitation

Neonatal resuscitation is a crucial medical procedure aimed at saving the life of a vulnerable infant immediately after birth

An obstetrician at work | concept for neonatal resuscitation

Nearly 25% of the deaths of newly born babies can be attributed to asphyxia, which can be curtailed by quick and efficient resuscitation, proving the need for Neonatal Resuscitation Programs (NRPs).

Neonatal resuscitation is a set of emergency medical procedures carried out by doctors on newborn babies that have weak heartbeat, are not breathing, or are gasping while being conceived.

It has been observed that the need for neonatal resuscitation is particularly high if the baby conceived is by a mother that had an infection, internal bleeding or a complication while pregnant. The procedure might be needed if the baby went through prolonged labor, is one of a pair of twins, or was given birth to prematurely.

What is needed for neonatal resuscitation

It is important to verify that all tools needed for a successful procedure are available before a pregnant woman goes into labor, because the need for neonatal resuscitation  is usually unforeseen. The tools required for such procedure are:

  • A well-ventilated and warm labor room
  • Scissors
  • Towels
  • Clock
  • Stethoscope
  • Baby-sized mask

How to carry out neonatal resuscitation

In cases where neonatal resuscitation is needed, the first minute after childbirth is the most critical to ensure the child’s survival. Upon delivery, the doctor should waste no time in assessing the child and starting the procedure on babies with heart rates under a 100 beats a minute, difficult breathing, or pale lips.

Before being qualified to perform such a delicate procedure, it is paramount that one enrolls in the best neonatal resuscitation program available to them, like those at Newcastle Training.

The following are the steps to be followed for a successful procedure. Note that every step should be carried out quickly and responses should be expected within 30 seconds. If there is no favorable response, move on to the next step.

– Keep the baby warm

As soon as the baby is born, wrap the baby in a towel that is dry and warm. When the baby’s body or feet are rubbed gently, it can cause them to breathe.

– Clear the baby’s airways

The doctor should use a bulb syringe to suck the baby’s mouth secretions for five seconds to clear their airways to facilitate easy breathing.

– Use an Ambu bag

If the baby still finds it hard to breathe and has a low heart rate, put a mask over their nose and mouth and connect it with an Ambu bag. Slowly squeeze the bag to supply five inflation breaths while keeping an eye on the infant’s chest movement.

– Engage in chest compressions

If the infant’s heart rate is less than 60 beats per minute and is resistant to intervention by an Ambu bag, the doctor should use two hands to hold their chest with thumbs beneath the child’s nipples and press it at regular intervals.  After some time, stop, observe the chest movements and listen to the child’s heart rate.


Neonatal resuscitation is a crucial medical procedure aimed at saving the life of a vulnerable infant immediately after birth, and one has to be sufficiently trained to perform it. The above steps can guide you towards a successful procedure.

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