Keep chin off chest is one of the TICKS rules for babywearing. One that since the birth of my second baby has been very prominent in my thoughts. He has struggled with his oxygen saturation levels at birth and has a tendency towards seizures and breath holding, where he turns blue and needs oxygen to get him breathing properly again. While we were in hospital with him he was hooked up to a monitor that measured his ‘sats’. It soon became evident that he was stable at sats of 80-87. The preferred and safe level is 90 and above. Brwsing through The Babywearer Forum and found a post about laboured breathing videos on Youtube and thought I would share the information to you.(I haven’t linked to the videos but if you search for ‘slings snoring’ you will come across some of the ones discussed in the post)
What does blood saturation (sats) mean? Briefly because this isn’t meant to be a physiology blog! Here is description from Wisegeek
” Blood oxygen saturation level refers to the percentage of a person’s red blood cells that are loaded or filled with oxygen. Oxygen is carried by the red blood cells to organs, such as the brain and the heart. If the blood oxygen level is too low, not enough oxygen is carried to the organs. Without an adequate blood oxygen level, the body cannot function normally.”
My baby’s sats were measured by a tiny pad velcroed round his foot and although I wondered how on earth it measured how much oxygen there was in his blood I had other things to worry about to ask.(but if you are interested there is info on it here)
The TICKS rules of babywearing came about after the tragic deaths of babies in the USA, these babies were carried in SlingRider carriers (which have since been discontinued) I have been quoting TICKS and showing parents how to position their babies properly in slings for a couple of years now, however after having to learn more about oxygen saturation levels I realise exactly what it looks like to have a baby who is turning blue from asphyxiation. A very scary experience.
So wearing him in a sling was something that I was quite worried about. Would he be able to breathe ok in one. Our first attempt at carrying him involved a stretchy and a pretty unconventional position, a sort of modified cradle carry. He wasn’t able to be in an upright tummy to tummy position and we wanted to be able to see him (we were just learning how to observe him rather than rely on the monitor as we didn’t want to take that home). We were relieved to find that his sats greatly increased once he was in the sling, he got up to 99 at one point.
As he has grown and with help from a local osteopath he has strengthened and is now able to ride round in a sling in an upright position.
So I wanted to post on how to recognise breathing difficulties (this applies to anything babies sit in car seats, bouncy seats etc), as opposed to snoring or noise related to snotty noses. (or premature babies or those with respiratory illness who will be noisy breathers).
Signs to recognise obstructed airways:
- The noises change once the baby’s position is altered, ie the head is tipped back or a hand is placed against the back and gently pushes to straighten the spine. As soon as the baby’s position is altered the noises stop immediately.
- The noises sound forced and high pitched
- The breathing looks laboured, you can see the chest heaving up and down with each breath
- Rapid breathing. The normal rate for breathing for babies is between 40 and 52 breaths per minute.