Helping Babies Survive


Students feeling the breathing sensations on the NeoNatalie doll

This is a basic neonatal course set up by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organisation for low-resourced settings to curb the neonatal mortality rate. This course is good for home birth midwives and doulas and anyone who attends births regularly. It is a one day course. 6-8 people are needed for a course.

The life-saving training program, Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) has been updated to reflect changes in evidence-based science and supporting guidelines. The new curriculum provides a way to transition to the next steps in care. It also emphasizes the importance of quality improvement.

It is the first update since HBB launched in 2010. So far, more than 400,000 providers in 77 countries have been trained in HBB. The materials have been translated into 26 languages.

“This is literally becoming a movement. It’s really emphasizing the initial steps of resuscitation, the most important steps of resuscitation that will help a baby to breathe within the critical golden minute of life,” said Dr. Kamath-Rayne, a master trainer and member of the AAP HBB Planning Group.

The new curriculum provides steps toward reducing the newborn mortality rate to seven per 1,000 live births or less by 2035, a world health goal ().

Some of the key scientific updates include:

  • a discussion of the hazards of prolonged suctioning;
  • de-emphasizing oropharyngeal suctioning, particularly when there is meconium in the amniotic fluid;
  • information on delaying cord clamping so that ventilation can be established before cutting the cord; and
  • better assessment of the chest moving to improve the effectiveness of bag-mask ventilation, as well as an explanation on corrective steps to make improper ventilation effective.

Recent studies have shown that HBB improves early neonatal mortality and stillbirth rates. The updated curriculum focuses more on quality changes, including curriculum exercises to sensitise participants to the principles of quality improvement and empower those trained to become champions in their facilities and ensure that those trained are practising to maintain their skills.

“Thank you so much once again for flying to Jhb to present these workshops.  We all loved it and found it of great value.  I am more confident having the reassurance that I can help in situations where newborns might need help to breathe.” – Tertia Alkema vd Merwe, doula and owner of Mother Instinct, JHB, South Africa

“Last year I had the great privilege to meet Ruth Ehrhardt when I attended her Helping Babies Breathe Course. Just being in her presence was inspiring! The course was simple, clear and well designed and we learned so much through just listening to her birth stories. I left the course feeling so empowered as a Doula and Birth Keeper. I look forward to attending more of Ruth’s courses and workshops!” – Cecile Godhino, doula, Portugal


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