||An Apgar score is used to assess a newborn's wellbeing and is usually done twice–at one and five minutes after birth. The baby's heart rate, breathing, color, muscle tone and response to stimuli are assessed to determine whether she needs extra help, such as oxygen.
Any score over seven (out of a possible 10) means a baby is doing just fine on her own, while lower scores may mean she'll need a little extra help at first. The one-minute score has no correlation with future development and most babies with a low score at five minutes also do really well–it's normal for newborns to need some assistance initially.
If a baby still needs a lot of help at five minutes, a third Apgar score may be done at 10 minutes. Although some babies with low scores at 10 or 15 minutes may show signs of neurological problems later on, most babies are alert and breathing on their own by 10 minutes after birth.
Dr. Marjorie Greenfield is a practicing board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). She is currently associate professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and author of the new book, The Working Woman's Pregnancy Book. www.marjoriegreenfield.com