If you saw a person choking, would you know what to do? The Heimlich maneuver sounds familiar, but the technique is now more commonly known as abdominal thrusts, and many do not know the proper way to perform one.
And everything gets a little more complicated when the person choking is pregnant. Instead of placing your fist, thumb side in, just above the person's navel and reaching around to grab the fist tightly with the other hand, do so around the lower chest, just above the stomach. That'll help keep the baby safe while still letting you help out the mother.
On "Good Morning America" this morning, senior health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser demonstrated how to save other adults choking victims, even if the victim is yourself.
The following steps outline the proper way to perform an abdominal thrust in adults:
For a conscious person who is sitting or standing, position yourself behind the person and reach your arms around his or her waist.
Place your fist, thumb side in, just above the person's navel and grab the fist tightly with your other hand.
Pull your fist abruptly upward and inward to increase airway pressure behind the obstructing object and force it from the windpipe.
If the person is conscious and lying on his or her back, straddle the person facing the head. Push your grasped fist upward and inward in a maneuver similar to the one above.
Both the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association acknowledge that back blows, abdominal thrusts and chest thrusts are effective ways to help a choking person recover.
However, the American Red Cross recommends back blows before starting abdominal thrusts, and the American Heart Association formally recommends abdominal thrusts as the first-line procedure in choking emergencies.
The technique is different for babies. Chest thrusts in a baby should be performed with two fingers and not with the whole hand.
Perform the Heimlich on Yourself
The steps highlighted above work when the victim is near at least one other person, but what if there is no one else around? Besser also demonstrated the way to perform abdominal thrusts on yourself.
Make a fist. Place the thumb below your rib cage and above your navel.
Grasp your fist with your other hand. Press it into the area with a quick upward movement.
You also can lean over a table edge, chair, or railing. Quickly thrust your upper abdomen against the edge.