During HypnoBirthing Sessions we discuss what happens once your baby is born. One of the first things that happens is that your midwife will give your baby an APGAR score.
The APGAR Test was designed by Virginia Apgar, an American anaesthesiologist, to quickly evaluate a newborn’s physical condition and to determine whether any extra medical help is required. Conveniently for midwifery students, the word Apgar makes a handy mnemonic detailing the signs to be assessed: Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration.
The Apgar Score is usually assessed twice: once at 1 minute after birth, and again at 5 minutes after birth. Sometimes, if there are concerns about the baby’s condition or the score at 5 minutes is low, the test may be scored for a third time at 10 minutes after birth.
Five factors are used to evaluate the baby’s condition and each factor is scored on a scale of 0 to 2, with 2 being the best score:
- appearance (skin coloration)
- pulse (heart rate)
- grimace response (medically known as “reflex irritability”)
- activity and muscle tone
- respiration (breathing rate and effort)
You midwife will give each of these signs a score from 0 to 2 and total them up to give your baby a score out of 10, with 10 being the best score.
Most mums who have had an easy calm birth and who have a clearly healthy newborn baby will want to have immediate skin to skin contact; it can be a good idea to mention on your birth preferences that you would like the APGAR score to be assessed whilst your baby remains on your chest, rather than being whisked away to a table that you can’t necessarily see. Of course instinctively, everyone is assessing whether your baby is a ‘clearly healthy newborn baby’ by looking at the signs that make up the APGAR score.
Here’s hoping your baby gets a high score in the first test of their lives!