First moments

Soon after birth, your midwife will assess your baby’s wellbeing. This is called the Apgar score.

Your baby’s Apgar score

Your baby’s breathing, colour, muscle tone, response to stimulation and heart rate are checked, and given a mark of 0, 1 or 2. The midwife will assess these aspects of your baby’s appearance at one minute and then at five minutes. Some units do a two minute assessment only.

Some blood may be taken from the blood vessels in your baby’s umbilical cord after birth. This is to check the level of oxygen in your baby’s blood at the time of birth. You should ask your midwife if you have any questions.

Your baby will have a newborn blood spot screening test which identifies babies who may have rare but serious conditions.

Most babies screened will not have any of the conditions but, for the small number that do, the benefits of screening are enormous. Early treatment can improve their health and prevent severe disability or even death.

For more information on bloodspot screening visit the Newborn Bloodspot Screening website.

How your baby looks

  • She may have creamy vernix on her skin. This is the creamy white substance that protected her skin in the womb.
  • Her skin may be blotchy or have dry flaky patches.
  • There may be a few streaks of blood (yours, from your tear or episiotomy if you had one).
  • Her head may look a funny shape – the soft skull bones have moulded themselves to make it easier to squeeze through to the birth canal. It’ll look less misshapen soon.
  • She’ll have blue eyes though this may not be their final colour.
Last Updated: 27 October 2010
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