Skip to Main Content


Cardiac arrest in pregnancy is rare, and resuscitation of a pregnant woman is typically an unexpected and chaotic event, which ideally involves multiple consultants from different specialties with different levels and types of skills. Emergency care and lifesaving procedures for resuscitation and cardiac arrest should not be delayed if specialists are not available. Contact the closest center providing neonatal and maternal services as soon as possible to facilitate rapid transport and continued care of the newly delivered infant and the mother.

The World Health Organization defines maternal deaths as deaths while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy, related to or aggravated by pregnancy or pregnancy management, regardless of the duration or site of the pregnancy and irrespective of the cause of death.1 Factors associated with pregnancy-related deaths in the United States include advanced maternal age, African American race, increasing live birth order, and lack of prenatal care.2

Management of emergencies during labor and delivery and diagnosis and management of pulmonary embolism and eclampsia are discussed in the chapters 101, "Emergency Delivery" and 100, "Maternal Emergencies after 20 Weeks of Pregnancy and in the Postpartum Period."


Beginning early in pregnancy, virtually all major organ systems undergo changes (Table 25–1) that affect patient management.

Table 25–1

Physiologic Changes in Pregnancy Affecting Resuscitation

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.