Expert Advice

The Apgar Score Is Your Baby’s First Standardized Test

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Geez, your new darling’s only been in the outside world one minute and is already getting a standardized test score! Fortunately, an Apgar score is about baby’s well-being, and is the best way for all your caregivers in the birth room to be on the same page.

On your hospital bag checklist, you’ll include your one-page birth plan. In it you can include a short sentence saying you want to know your baby’s Apgar scores. Birth care teams are often glad to tell you.

At one minute and at five minutes, your baby’s health is measured in five ways. Each assessment is rated between 0-2. Here’s what your midwife, nurse, or doctor look at[1]:

  • Breathing effort
  • Heart rate
  • Muscle tone
  • Reflexes
  • Skin color

At one minute, these assessments show how baby did during labor and delivery. Five minutes later, they indicate how baby’s doing on her own, outside the womb and unattached to her life-giving placenta.

A healthy and immediately robust baby will have an Apgar score of 7-10. Just like in the Olympics, a perfect 10 is rare. Most healthy babes score 7-9 because they still need to breathe a bit and send oxygenated red blood to those blue-tinged feet.

Babies can change a lot in five minutes. Your baby can have a low Apgar score at one minute but have a perfect 10 score at five minutes.

If you plan for birth at home or in a birth center, your midwives will be close by. They’ll already know your birth preferences and if your birth plan says you want to know these scores.

If you plan to be in the hospital, usually nurses do the Apgar assessment. They may or may not be close by, and you might have to ask them to tell you the scores. But if you include your desire to know in your birth plan, they’ll probably tell you right away.

Your baby can be a perfect 10 just by doing what it instinctually does – breathe!


To learn more about keeping baby healthy, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.

This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner.  These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.


Published: October 14, 2015 | Reviewed by: Kim Walls, Natural Products Expert, Elizabeth Bachner, LM, CPM, L.Ac., Midwife | Last reviewed: October, 2015


Kim WallsThe Apgar Score Is Your Baby’s First Standardized Test

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