After a long wait of nine months, finally the labour day has arrived. You and your partner are having a surge of emotions and your excitement knows no bounds. Fast forward to the delivery room and you finally hear the words you have been waiting for, “Congratulations, you have a healthy baby!” or “Congratulations, it’s a boy/girl!” You can’t wait to hold the baby regardless of how exhausted (well, thats’s an understatement) you are. But the team of doctors and nurses take a few minutes (that honestly feel like forever) to hand over the baby to you. Or perhaps they do a quick skin-to-skin mother baby contact and initial breastfeeding and then take the baby for a little while. WHY? You just stare at them, unable to move and wondering why on earth are they not handing over the baby to you? Is everything okay? What is all this medical jargon they are using? Why aren’t they constantly updating me?
Well, I have been there and I know exactly how it feels. At least, they could tell me what’s happening, right? Not exactly, they are actually really busy checking the wellbeing of your baby, especially in the first 10 minutes (trust me, it does seem like an eternity) after childbirth. They really don’t have the time to respond and explain everything to you. Meanwhile, a nurse/doctor is attending you to ensure your wellbeing.
After cutting the umbilical cord and cleaning the baby, the healthcare team quickly starts evaluating the APGAR score of your newborn. This is a very important step and once you know what it is, you would really not mind them having your baby for a few minutes immediately after delivery.
APGAR stands for Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity and Respiration – 5 important evaluations performed on a baby at 1 and 5 minutes after birth to determine the immediate care required. Named after its creator, Dr. Virginia Apgar, this scoring system has proven to be an invaluable tool in ensuring the well-being of infants worldwide.
The score is determined by evaluating five key indicators, which are easily remembered using the acronym APGAR:
- Appearance: The baby’s skin color is observed, with a healthy pink hue indicating good oxygenation, while paleness or bluish discoloration may indicate potential problems.
- Pulse: The baby’s heart rate is assessed, as a strong and regular heartbeat is crucial for proper functioning and oxygenation of the body.
- Grimace: The baby’s reflexes and response to stimulation are examined. A healthy newborn will exhibit strong reflexes, such as crying or pulling away when stimulated.
- Activity: The baby’s muscle tone is assessed, with a newborn showing good muscle tone by active movements and flexed limbs.
- Respiration: The baby’s breathing is observed for proper lung function and oxygen exchange.
It serves as a communication tool between healthcare providers, ensuring a standardized evaluation and allowing for consistent documentation of the newborn’s condition. The Apgar score enables healthcare providers to monitor the baby’s progress over time. By comparing the one-minute and five-minute scores, doctors can assess the effectiveness of any interventions initiated and make informed decisions regarding the need for additional care.
A low Apgar score at one or five minutes can signal the need for further evaluation, specialized care, or resuscitative measures. Healthcare providers can quickly initiate appropriate interventions such as administering oxygen, clearing airways, or initiating cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if necessary.
Furthermore, the Apgar score assists in identifying newborns who may require extended observation or neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission. It aids in determining the urgency and level of care needed, facilitating timely and targeted interventions for high-risk infants.
The Apgar score’s simplicity and effectiveness have made it an indispensable part of newborn care, allowing medical teams to ensure the best possible outcomes for infants around the world. So after delivery, when the doctors do not hand over the baby to you immediatey, just relax. They are just doing the best for your baby and yoou will soon hold your newborn in your arms and adore the cutie for as long as you wish 🙂