I recently made an important purchase that I hope will help me give the best care possible to my client’s babies. This piece of equipment was expensive, but it is something that I know can be a useful tool in helping to screen for problems before they become life threatening. It will also help guide my care if a baby has problems transitioning to life outside the womb.
I bought a pulse-oximeter that is specifically meant for monitoring newborns and infants, though it can also be used on adults. My pulse-oximeter tells me the baby’s pulse and oxygen levels. This type of pulse-oximeter can be used during resuscitation to help guide efforts to get the baby breathing on its own. It can also help to detect serious heart defects that may not show symptoms in the first week or two of life. The sooner a heart defect is detected, the sooner the baby can get help.
A pulse-oximeter takes the pulse and oxygen measurements by the means of two sensors that are placed on the baby’s skin on the hand, wrist, or foot. It is simple and non-invasive, but very effective.
I would like to begin screening all newborns for critical congenital heart defects at the 2 day home visit. The test usually takes about 5 minutes and is done when the baby is awake and calm. This testing is currently required by law to be offered for infants born in birth centers and hospitals in Texas. You can read more information about this testing and critical congenital heart defects at the CDC website.
My pulse-ox will have a place in my resuscitation bag as well, so that I can monitor a newborn’s oxygen levels during resuscitation or whenever it becomes necessary in the hours immediately after the birth.