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What kind of medical care should my baby have?

Right after birth babies need many important tests and procedures to ensure their health. Some of these are even required by law. But as long as the baby is healthy, everything but the Apgar test can wait for at least an hour. Delaying further medical care will preserve the precious first moments of life for you, your partner, and the baby. A baby who has not been poked and prodded may be more willing to nurse and cuddle. So before delivery, talk to your doctor or midwife about delaying shots, medicine, and tests.

The Apgar test is a quick way for doctors to figure out if the baby is healthy or needs extra medical care. Apgar tests are usually done twice: one minute after birth and again five minutes after birth. Doctors and nurses measure 5 signs of the baby's condition. These are:

    * Heart rate
    * Breathing
    * Activity and muscle tone
    * Reflexes
    * Skin color

Apgar scores range from 0 to 10. A baby who scores 7 or more is considered very healthy. But a lower score does not always mean there is something wrong. Perfectly healthy babies often have low Apgar scores in the first minute of life.

In more than 98 percent of cases, the Apgar score reaches 7 after 5 minutes of life. When it does not, the baby needs medical care and close monitoring.

This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.