The Apgar score is done at one and five minutes old and at ten minutes if necessary. It is usually done without you even realizing it. A nurse will assess your baby at one minute old, often just visually, and assign a score from 0-10 points. She will do the same at five minutes of age. Common Apgar scores are 8 and 9, meaning an 8 at one minute and a 9 at five minutes. The scores are based on the five following criteria: Heart Rate (absent = 0 pts, below 100 = 1 pt, over 100 = 2 pts) Respiratory Effort (absent = 0pts, slow/irregular = 1 pt, good/crying = 2 pts) Muscle Tone (flaccid = 0 pts, some flexion of extremities = 1 pt, active motion = 2 pts) Reflex Irritability (no response = 0pts, grimace = 1pt, cry = 2pts), and Color (blue/pale = 0 pts, body pink/extremeties blue = 1pt, completely pink = 2 pts). Obviously, the lower the score, the more assistance the baby will need in making the transition from a uterine environment to “life on the outside.” Nurses will often vigorously stimulate a baby just after birth to expedite this major transition. It is wonderful for a brand new baby to cry for a few moments just after birth. That’s how he/she clears the lungs and transitions to breathing air. If you’d like to know your baby’s Apgar scores, ask your labor and delivery nurse.
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