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Kidz First Neonatal Care

Public Service, Paediatrics, Intensive Care

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

CPAP is used to help your baby’s breathing by keeping the lungs partially inflated.  This helps your baby to breathe easier.  It also helps get more oxygen in baby’s blood and stops the lungs collapsing when baby breathes out.  CPAP is an extremely safe and effective way to treat babies with sick lungs without causing damage to the lungs.
The CPAP is given through short prongs in the baby’s nose and is achieved by the bubbling of water in the special bottle that one of the tubes is inserted into (this is the bubbling sound you will usually hear when you are beside your baby).
Depending on your baby’s age or condition, your baby may require CPAP for a few hours or many weeks.  Your baby may also require some oxygen while on CPAP, which is given through the CPAP system and the amount is safely monitored through an oxygen analyser.
A tube (orogastric) is inserted into baby’s stomach through the mouth, as CPAP is achieved by a flow of air which can cause the tummy to distend/fill with air.  We can remove any excess air from the stomach through this tube if required.
Once your baby has been stabilised on CPAP, you will be able to cuddle your baby and feeding may be commenced through the orogastric tube.
While your baby is on CPAP, it is important for the nursing staff to regularly suction down your baby’s nose and mouth. This will usually be done 2-3 hourly or as required in special cases. Babies do not like this sensation but it is a quick procedure and is vital in clearing their breathing passages and, therefore, reducing the work of breathing.  The nursing staff will regularly check to make sure that the CPAP prongs are not rubbing against the nose, as this can cause injury to the area.
What can parents do for their baby while on CPAP?
You can help with the care of your baby by assisting the nursing staff at care times.
  • You can help your baby at suction times by soothing and touching your baby.
  • You can change baby’s nappy.
  • You can learn how to do eye and mouth care.
  • Mothers will be shown how to express their milk to give to their baby.
  • Once feeding has commenced, you can hold the feed.
If you are not always visiting at care times, you can simply hold your baby’s hand, or just talk to your baby.
Some babies require more help to breathe.  When this is the case a tube will be put into your baby’s throat and connected to a machine which will then do all the breathing for your baby.  The care for your baby is similar to when he/she is on CPAP.

This page was last updated at 11:31AM on September 3, 2021.