Understanding Your Baby’s Apgar Score

What is it and why’s it important?

Every newborn is given the Apgar score which is a technique used by a midwife or doctor to assess the condition of your baby’s health immediately after birth. It is performed twice, first at one minute after birth and again at five minutes.

The Apgar is a numerical score that helps medical professionals to determine whether a baby needs medical assistance. It also provides a baseline for their examinations in the following hours and days.

To determine the state of your baby’s wellbeing, the doctor, midwife or nurse will observe the following characteristics:

  • Colour
  • Breathing
  • Heart rate
  • Responsiveness to stimulation
  • Muscle tone

Each characteristic is given a rating from 0-2, with 2 being optimum, providing a total Apgar score out of 10. A score of 7 or more is deemed normal. A score of 6 or less at one minute and 7 or more at five minutes is also considered normal. A score below 7 in the second test is considered low and will be followed by additional monitoring, possible resuscitation if required and any treatment or care that is needed.