Your baby will be checked at birth, and then again after the first five minutes, and given a score called the Apgar score.
The test is named after the doctor who first developed this checklist to give a quick picture of a new baby’s condition and help medical staff decide whether special care or some other help is needed.
Your baby is checked on:
- 0 for pale.
- 1 for pink with blue hands and feet.
- 2 for pink all over (in black or Asian babies, the colour of the mouth, palms and soles of feet will be checked).
- 0 if none can be found.
- 1 for a heartbeat below 100.
- 2 for a heartbeat above 100 beats per minute.
Grimace (a response to stimulation)
- 0 if no response.
- 1 if the baby grimaces.
- 2 if the baby responds with a strong cry.
Activity (muscle tone)
- 0 if the baby is weak or shows no activity.
- 1 if the baby shows some limited movement.
- 2 for strong movements.
- 0 for none.
- 1 for slow and irregular breaths.
- 2 for good (usually involving crying!)
When the numbers are added up, the highest score is 10.
What does it mean?
- Babies with an Apgar score of below 4 may need special care.
- Babies with an Apgar score of between 4 and 6 may need resuscitation - medical staff will often clear out their airways and give oxygen to help them breathe.
- Babies with an Apgar score of 7 or better at one minute should do well. Babies with scores below 7 may need some careful watching.