First aid. It’s one of those critical skills that you hope you never have to use, not enough of us have and as a parent is essential.
It was World first aid day yesterday (9th September) and you may have noticed lots on the news about how we all should brush up our skills as you never know when you might need them.
As a parent it is so important, maybe more so than ever to know how to look after your children should the worst happen.
New research from the British Red Cross has revealed that three out of four parents in the UK would not be able to save their baby from choking.*
I read this over the weekend and couldn’t believe the statistic. Because of that very statistic I wanted to share my story to show how easy it is for something to go wrong and how essential it is that you know what to do.
Evie is now 11 months old and is the most enquisitive baby. Everything goes in her mouth from bits on the floor, to stickers and anything that looks like food.
As soon as she could move she was on the hunt!
I have taken two first aid courses, one when I was in a sleep deprived state with my first, now a toddler and a second before I had Evie so I could brush up on skills. I know the dangers of choking and some the most common things babies choke on so as soon as I saw Evie was a ‘put everything in her mouth child’ I got to work. I removed anything remotely small from places she could reach and made sure her sister knew that toys were going away or that she had to play with them up high. Anything dangerous was locked away or put away for when she was older.
This worked well but you can’t stop everything and over the course of a month we were unlucky enough to have two choking incidents.
Both were over dinner, for one of them my husband was there, the other I was alone.
These things happen so quickly, one minute you’re all eating and chatting the next you look over at your baby and just know something isn’t right… They say if they’re coughing their body is doing the job, if they’re silent and in distress, something is wrong.
Both times she fell silent, I thought for a split second ‘she’s fine’, but then I knew she was choking. Call it a mothers intuition, whatever it was, I just got that dreadful feeling in the pit of my stomach and knew I had to act.
What I learnt from the courses I had done kicked in, I didn’t and don’t really remember even thinking about what to do. I jumped up, pulled her out of her high chair and moved to the sofa. I laid Evie on my leg, face down, with her head lower than her bum (gravity helps) and with back blows she coughed up the food. The second time she choked it took longer, I started to panic, thought about calling 999 and then she was sick. I’ve never been so happy to see sick.
Thinking back on both occasions I was fairly calm (as calm as you can be in these kinds of situations), auto-pilot almost took over but afterwards it hit me.
When my husband was there I had a cry and a big cuddle with Evie, but when I was on my own I was shaken. I could hardly speak and I was a complete state. I was very close to dialling 999 and I think the shock of it happening twice and me being the only person there to help really shook me up. I called my sister as my husband didn’t answer and haven’t heard myself like that before, I was scared.
The scariest thing as a parent is for something bad to happen to your children, we do everything we can to protect them and care for them so choking is just one of my worst fears. The shock and feeling is horrendous and something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
But a worse feeling for me would be not knowing what to do. I did and I’m so glad.
I’m telling this story as I believe first aid is so important and it should be the first thing we learn when we have children. Not just for choking, but for cuts, burns, head injuries and also to help other people.
You never know when you are going to need first aid skills.
If you want to brush up on your skills, have a reminder or look into courses there are loads of places you can look at. I did my courses with Daisy First Aid and NCT but the British Red Cross is a resource and Sure Start Centres can also offer courses.
You can also watch a video on skills here…
This is in not an Ad, just a big thank you to this and all the companies / organisations giving parents the skills and confidence we need when these things happen.
*Nationally representative online survey of 2008 UK adults, carried out in April 2017 by Critical Research. Source – http://www.worldfirstaidday.co.uk