Can You Use an AED on Pregnant People?

A blue and white philips onsite AED

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) have revolutionized emergency response by significantly improving survival rates during sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) incidents. While their effectiveness is well-established, questions often arise about their safety when it comes to pregnant individuals. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the topic of whether AEDs can be safely used on pregnant people. By understanding the functionality of AEDs, their typical usage scenarios, and the specific considerations for pregnant individuals, we at AED Advantage, aim to provide a clear and informed perspective on this critical issue.

Understanding AEDs and Their Role in Saving Lives

Automated External Defibrillators are portable medical devices designed to administer a controlled electric shock to the heart during sudden cardiac arrest situations. SCA occurs when the heart's normal rhythm is disrupted, and immediate defibrillation is necessary to restore it. AEDs are equipped with user-friendly features, including voice and visual prompts, making them accessible even to individuals without medical training.

AED Usage in Various Scenarios

AEDs are vital components in various settings, including:

  • Public Spaces: Airports, shopping malls, sports facilities, and other areas with large crowds.

  • Healthcare Facilities: Hospitals, clinics, and medical centers to enhance response times.

  • Workplaces: Offices, factories, and businesses committed to employee safety.

  • Educational Institutions: Schools to protect students, teachers, and staff members.

In these scenarios, AEDs play a crucial role by delivering a controlled electric shock, known as defibrillation, to restore the heart's natural rhythm. This intervention holds the potential to save lives.

The Question of AED Use on Pregnant Individuals

The use of AEDs on pregnant individuals raises significant concerns due to the unique physiological state of pregnancy. Hormonal changes and increased strain on the cardiovascular system make pregnant individuals susceptible to sudden cardiac arrest. Therefore, understanding the safety and implications of using AEDs in these cases is of utmost importance.

Navigating the Unique Scenario: AED Usage on Pregnant Individuals

When a pregnant individual experiences sudden cardiac arrest, prompt action is crucial to increase the chances of survival. However, the safety of both the mother and the developing fetus must be considered when using an AED in such a scenario. A careful and informed approach is essential to ensure the effective use of AEDs on pregnant individuals.

Safely Using AEDs on Pregnant Individuals: Step-by-Step Guide

Proper Pad Placement

The correct placement of AED pads is pivotal for successful defibrillation. When dealing with a pregnant individual, special attention is required to ensure the safety of both the mother and the fetus:

  • Upper Right Chest: Position one pad on the upper right side of the chest, just below the collarbone. This placement ensures that the electric shock travels through the heart's electrical system.

  • Lower Left Chest: Place the other pad on the lower left side of the chest, below the breast and near the ribcage. This positioning creates an effective pathway for the shock.

It's crucial to note that placing the pads on the abdomen should be avoided to direct the shock's energy away from the developing fetus.

Clothing Removal

If the pregnant individual is wearing obstructive clothing, it may be necessary to swiftly expose the chest area. In some cases, cutting the clothing may be required to ensure proper pad adhesion. To maintain effective conductivity, ensure that the skin under the pads is clean, dry, and free from lotions, oils, or creams.


Hazards to Be Aware Of

Several hazards should be considered when using an AED on pregnant individuals:

  • Metallic Objects: Prior to attaching the pads, remove any metallic objects such as jewelry or piercings from the chest area. Metallic objects could interfere with the delivery of the shock.

  • Moist Environments: Using an AED in wet or damp conditions poses electric shock hazards. It's essential to ensure a dry environment for safe usage.

  • Maintaining Distance: When delivering the shock, make sure no one is in direct contact with the pregnant individual to prevent accidental contact. Maintain a safe distance and verbally announce the impending shock.

Dispelling Myths: Impact on the Developing Fetus

Focused Shock Delivery

AEDs administer a controlled electric shock specifically aimed at restoring the heart's natural rhythm. This focused energy delivery minimizes any potential impact on the developing fetus.

Minimal Current Transmission

The electric shock delivered by an AED follows a precise path through the heart's electrical pathways. The transmitted current is minimal and has an insignificant effect on other parts of the body, including the uterus. AEDs are designed to ensure that the impact of the shock remains localized and poses negligible risk to the fetus.

Expert Medical Validation

Extensive medical research and real-life cases support the safety of using AEDs on pregnant individuals. Healthcare professionals emphasize that the benefits of restoring the mother's heartbeat far outweigh the minimal risks associated with the shock.

Addressing Common Concerns

Will the Shock Hurt the Baby?

No, the controlled shock administered by an AED is targeted at the heart's electrical system. The minimal current transmitted is unlikely to cause harm to the developing fetus.

How Much Energy Does the Shock Deliver?

An average AED shock delivers energy ranging from 120 to 200 joules. This energy level is considered safe for both adults and pregnant individuals. The localized impact of the shock focuses solely on the heart and does not pose a significant risk to the fetus.

Are There Dangers to Using an AED on a Pregnant Person?

When used correctly and following guidelines, there are no significant dangers associated with using an AED on a pregnant person. The potential risks are outweighed by the life-saving benefits of prompt defibrillation.

Risks and Precautions

While AEDs are generally considered safe and effective, it's important to be aware of potential risks and exercise appropriate precautions when using them on pregnant individuals.

Individual Medical History

Each pregnancy is unique, and medical history can vary widely. Pregnant individuals with known heart conditions or medical complications should ideally have a personalized care plan in consultation with a healthcare provider. In such cases, seeking medical guidance before the use of an AED is advisable.

Monitoring the Fetus

While the shock delivered by an AED is unlikely to pose a significant risk to the fetus, continuous monitoring of the mother's condition and the fetus is essential. Healthcare professionals, emergency responders, and bystanders should prioritize the well-being of both individuals during and after AED usage.

The Role of Bystanders and Healthcare Professionals

The successful use of an AED on a pregnant individual requires effective communication and collaboration between bystanders and healthcare professionals.

Immediate Action

Bystanders should initiate immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while someone else retrieves the AED. This immediate response ensures a continuous supply of oxygenated blood to the mother's vital organs and the fetus.

Healthcare Provider Involvement

Healthcare providers arriving at the scene should be informed of the pregnant individual's condition and the use of an AED. Their expertise will contribute to informed decision-making and personalized care.

Your Partner in Safety: AED Advantage

At AED Advantage, our mission is to equip individuals, communities, and organizations with the tools and knowledge needed to respond effectively to emergencies. Our range of AED products, including defibrillators and replacement parts, adhere to the highest quality standards and guidelines. We understand the importance of accurate information, timely intervention, and reliable equipment in critical situations.

Commitment to Education

In addition to supplying AEDs, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive education and training resources. Our aim is to empower individuals with the skills and confidence to respond confidently and effectively during emergencies, including scenarios involving pregnant individuals.

Advocating for Safety

We are committed to advocating for safety across all stages of life, including pregnancy. AEDs can be a critical tool in ensuring the well-being of both mothers and their unborn children. By dispelling myths, providing accurate information, and promoting safe usage practices, we strive to create a safer environment for everyone.


In emergency situations like sudden cardiac arrest, the timely and informed use of an AED can be a lifeline for pregnant individuals and their developing fetuses. The controlled electric shock is designed to restore the heart's natural rhythm with minimal risk to the fetus. Proper pad placement, adherence to guidelines, and a comprehensive understanding of the process ensure the safety of both the mother and her unborn child. When faced with a critical scenario, every second counts, and AEDs are proven to enhance the chances of survival.

At AED Advantage, we acknowledge the paramount importance of accurate information and timely intervention. As a leading supplier of AEDs and replacement parts across North America, we are committed to promoting safety and providing reliable solutions. Our range of AED products is designed to equip you with the tools needed to safeguard lives effectively. Explore our selection today and take a significant step toward creating a safer environment for everyone.

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