Apgar Scores– What do they mean?

You’re in the waves immediately following the birth of your baby when your care provider says “Apgar score is __.”

In this moment, it’s just another number with a label. Your baby is taking it’s first breaths followed by that beautiful first cry. How did you create something so beautiful? Your baby is so small, so perfectly small with tiny hands that are going to change the world, those hands have already changed your world and you’re just seeing them for the first time.

A nurse looks at a timer again, viewing your baby. Your partner is confused, you’re feeling a bit confused as to why they’re grading your baby.
And then it happens again. “Apgar score is __”

A lot of parents don’t hear the term “Apgar score” until they are in the delivery room.

The Apgar test is a test done by physicians very shortly after birth to see if your baby may need assistance adjusting to their new life outside the womb. Invented by Virginia Apgar, the test is done once at one minute after birth and again at five minutes after birth to assess the babies:

– heart rate
– breathing
– muscle tone
– reflex response
– colour

Each category is judged on a scale from 0-2 and then added up to give baby an overall score out of 10. This score may help physicians see if your baby needs a vigorous rub while doing skin to skin to help oxygen flow or a bit of help removing fluids from their air passage.

apgarchart
( provided from link http://www.parentresourcenetwork.org/care-given-to-the-baby-at-birth/)

The apgar test is not used to create stress for new parents, but may sound a bit sharp while you’re dancing through the first moments of becoming a new family. If your pregnancy has been labelled high risk, you’ve delivered prematurely, or your birth held traumas you didn’t expect, your apgar score will help guide your health care professionals to provide you with the best options for the health of your baby.

Most babies score above 7 and progress towards a higher number. The goal of this test is to see how baby adapts to life immediately outside the womb and if there is anything we can do as parents, doulas, or practitioners to ensure both you and your baby get as much healthy time together as possible.

If the idea of an apgar test stresses you out, please remember a beautiful, healthy baby isn’t created from a number but the love they received during pregnancy and continue to receive as you bloom into an empowered family. Those little toes, little hands, and giant heart will always be a 10.

With Love, from Ficus.
http://www.ficusdoula.com

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