St Albans super mum uses first aid to save another person’s baby

PUBLISHED: 14:00 14 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:14 14 September 2017

Rowena Vithlani with her daughter Laila, 11 months. Photo: Teri Pengilley.

Rowena Vithlani with her daughter Laila, 11 months. Photo: Teri Pengilley.

© Teri Pengilley/ UNP 0845 600 7737

A St Albans mum used her first aid training to save the life of another person’s nine month old baby.

Rowena Vithlani, 43, had stopped at a coffee shop and started chatting with another mum, who was feeding her baby girl.

But when Rowena went to queue for coffee, the other mother screamed: “My baby, my baby.”

Rowena said: “I could see there was something wrong with the little girl as she wasn’t moving and was very quiet and so, instinctively, I left the queue and ran to the back of the café.

“Two other customers were trying to calm the mother down while furiously patting the back of the baby girl.

“The situation was chaotic, but I quickly realised from the signs that she was choking on her baby food.”

Luckily, Rowena had recently taken a baby-and-child first aid course with the British Red Cross.

With this at the front of her mind, she took control of the situation.

“I think it was my mother’s instinct that kicked in. I told the women to give the girl to me.

“They were on autopilot and didn’t respond, so I said ‘I’ve done first aid’ and took the baby from them.

“I sat on a chair and held the baby girl face down along the length of my left leg with her head lower than my knee, then started to give her back blows – hitting her firmly on the back between the shoulder blades.

“On the second or third back blow she started to cry, so I realised she could now breathe and that the blockage in her throat had gone.”

She handed the baby back to the mum, who was shocked and upset.

Rowena then realised own hands were shaking with adrenaline.

“I didn’t fully realise until that point what had just happened and the gravity of it, and how it had impacted me also.

“I’m just grateful I was there at the right time to be able to help.”

The British Red Cross have found 75 per cent of parents in the UK would not be able to save their baby from choking.

Their survey of 2,000 adults also showed 20 per cent of parents never learnt any first aid.

Head of first aid for the British Red Cross, Joe Mulligan, said: “If every parent in the UK knew just a few simple first aid skills, they could be empowered to deal with the everyday injuries and illnesses that their baby may face.”

To find out more visit, or to book training visit

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