Lucy Mecklenburgh has spoken about her distress after her baby son choked on a small piece of apple.
The former TOWIE star, 29, welcomed her son, Roman, with her fiancé Ryan Thomas, in March 2020.
Describing the ordeal on Instagram stories, the reality TV star said her baby had managed to bring up the fruit by himself, but spent two hours after that "gagging" and refused food or fluids.
After heading to the GP with her son, Mecklenburgh says she was advised to take him to A&E if he continued to refuse fluids.
Later, after her son had recovered, the new mum shared an image of Roman enjoying the sunshine in a swing and reassured fans he was doing ok.
"Such a scary morning with Roman choking but he’s absolutely fine thank god," she wrote in the accompanying caption. "I’ve just smothered him with kisses and cuddles all day."
In the comments section of her post other parents were quick to offer support to the mum following the scary incident.
"Bless him so scary when they choke on stuff," one wrote.
"So glad he's OK," another commented. "I did a first aid course specifically for this and made my parents go, as they help whilst my husband and I work. I knew it would put fear of God in me."
How can parents tell if their baby is choking?
No matter how careful you are, babies will sometimes put small objects in their mouths or can occasionally choke on small pieces of food. So knowing how to help your child - and when to call an ambulance - is key.
"When we talk about a baby who is choking, we are generally referring to a baby under 12-months old," explains Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy.
"Choking is an emergency as it means the baby’s airway (trachea) has become blocked. This means they are suddenly unable to breathe."
If a baby chokes, something is stuck in the airway, most commonly a large piece of food, but sometimes babies put things in their mouths and swallow them, such as coins, plastic toys, marbles, nuts or sweets.
"They may not pass into the stomach, however, and they can get stuck in the trachea - the airway," Dr Lee explains.
"Choking is a serious medical emergency. This is every parent’s worst nightmare."
Dr Lee says parents should seek help immediately if they believe their baby is choking.
"Don’t delay. Get someone else to phone 999 while you attend to the first aid," she advises.
Signs your baby is choking
Dr Lee says parents should watch out for the following signs a baby could be choking:
- They are suddenly unable to speak or cough.
- They may be gagging, coughing, or crying, if there is a partial obstruction in the airway, this is still an emergency. "The fact they are able gag, cough, or cry, although frightening, means some air is still getting through the airway and into the lungs," Dr Lee adds.
- Their lips may turn blue.
- They may become limp, pale, and unresponsive.
Watch: Lucy Mecklenburgh opens up about becoming a first time mum in the pandemic.
What should parents do if they think their baby is choking?
Dr Lee has outlined some steps for parents who believe their baby is choking with additional insight from the British Red Cross.
1. Get a friend or relative to call 999.
2. Sit down. Pick up your baby and turn them over so you have them lying along your left forearm. Your hand will be supporting the baby’s chin. Lie your forearm over your left thigh to give it support. The baby should be angled slightly downwards so their head is lowered.
3. Using the heel of you right hand, give the baby five short, hard, thumps centrally, between the shoulder blades. The idea is to force the object up and out of the baby’s airway, so these need to be quite forceful blows.
4. If this doesn’t work, turn the baby over, still lying on your thigh, head angled slightly downwards. Press with two fingers on the central portion of the rib cage, in line with the baby’s’ nipples. Do this five times. The idea is to dislodge anything stuck in the airway and force it up and out. Don’t squeeze on their tummy.
5. Keep going, turning the baby over doing five thumps on the back, and if unsuccessful, five lots of pressing under the rib cage, until the ambulance arrives or until the item causing the blockage is dislodged.
6. The 999 operator may tell you to do CPR on your baby.
How to do CPR on a baby
Healthline has some tips on how to do CPR on a baby
- Place your baby on a hard flat surface, such as the ground, facing upwards.
- Open the baby’s mouth and see if you can grasp anything stuck in the throat and remove it with your fingers.
- Then start chest compressions. Use two fingers and press firmly on the central portion of the rib cage, where you did your earlier compressions, firmly enough to compress the chest about 1&1/2 inches, and at a rate of 100-200 compressions per minute. Do 30 compressions.
- Then attend to the airway. Tilt the baby’s head back and lift their chin to open the airway. Place your mouth over their mouth and nose, making sure you have a seal, and blow firmly. Do two breaths, each lasting for one second.
Then restart the chest compressions and do another 30.
Repeat this cycle of two breaths to 30 chest compressions until the ambulance arrives.
Other advice for parents concerning choking
Dr Lee has compiled some other tips and advice for parents on the issue of babies choking.
- You may have heard of the Heimlich manoeuvre, which is abdominal thrusts used in adults and older children. Do not try to do this to a baby.
- Do not dangle the baby by its feet.
- Don’t give the baby anything to drink – this will make things worse.
- Always stay with your baby and feed them yourself – do not leave them propped up with a bottle. If they choke, and they can choke on milk, they cannot push the bottle away.
- Remember a baby has a tiny airway, and throat. Cut food up very small. Keep a close eye on babies as they are naturally inquisitive and put anything in their mouths.
For more information visit NCT – What to do if your baby is choking
Watch the NCT video on what to do if your baby is unresponsive and not breathing here.