Moms can't wait for the moment that their baby comes into the world. But sometimes the little one has a hard time with that transition. There are times where it just takes a few minutes to get the hang of breathing, circulating, and just learning to live outside the womb. But sometimes the baby needs a little help.
That's especially true for a traumatic birth or when the baby comes early or with complications. Considering every labor is different, doctors and nurses have developed a series of tests to help determine what kinds of interventions might be good for the baby in those early moments of life.
Sometimes it's as simple as rubbing to stimulate the body, but the doctor might need to step in with resuscitation. These tests can quantify the evidence and help the doctor choose the best course of action so that the baby is healthy.
Here are 20 tests baby needs to pass before leaving the delivery room.
20 Newborn Cry
The best sound that a new mom can hear in the moments after giving birth is the baby's cry. The sound can be very indicative of how healthy the baby is, as a weak cry might demonstrate that the baby is struggling. Doctors have a lot of things that they are looking for to determine the baby's health, but one of the best determinations comes from the sounds that they hear.
19 A Baby's First Test
The first big test for the baby comes in the first minute of life. The evaluation was determined by a doctor in the 1950s to quantify the baby's health after the birth. The score is evaluated in five categories, which all can receive a score from zero to two for a total maximum score of 10. Babies very rarely receive a score of 10, at least at the one-minute evaluation.
18 Is The Baby Blue?
The first measure in the Apgar Score is to evaluate the baby's appearance. A pink and healthy baby receives a two, but that is very rare right after birth. Usually, the baby's arms and legs are still blue while the oxygen is circulating in the body, and sometimes the baby looks very blue or pale at birth, which could garner a zero.
17 The Baby's Heartbeat
The baby's heartbeat is the second part of the evaluation. A little one with no pulse would get a zero, and doctors would be resuscitation immediately. If the heartbeat is below 100 beats a minute, then the baby is given a one, and above 100 beats a minute gives a score of two. The doctors want the heart to begin beating strongly as soon as possible, so this score is very important.
16 Responding To Touch
The next test is for the baby's grimace, if you are going with the pneumonic for remembering the Apgar test. But it's easier to understand by describing it as the way that the baby responds to stimuli. If the doctor rubs on the baby, then it should startle or react. Usually, the baby needs a big rub down with a blanket to help invigorate the body, so the grimace might not be great in the beginning.
15 The Floppy Test
The fourth part of the Apgar Score involves the baby's muscle tone. A little one that is floppy and doesn't have any command of his arms or legs is likely to get a zero and need some stimulation or resuscitation. If the baby is active and moving his arms and legs, they will get the top score of two, and a one is given if the activity is somewhere in between.
14 Baby's Effort To Breathe
The final part of the Apgar test involves the baby's respiration. That is, it's a measure of how the baby is breathing (or at least trying to breathe). If the baby isn't breathing, they'll get a zero and resuscitation efforts will begin pretty quickly. Many babies struggle in the first minute or so of life, which garners a one, but they catch on soon.
13 Fingers And Toes
While the doctor and nurses are assessing the Apgar Score, they also have some other things in mind that need a check. One of the first is checking all of the babies fingers and toes. Babies typically have 10 of each, but there are some babies who are born with more or less, and that can signal other possible issues. So the doctor will count to 20 early.
12 Placenta Check
After the mom delivers the baby, she also has to get the placenta delivered. The organ sustains the baby's life, and it usually comes out a contraction or two after the baby. Whether the umbilical cord is cut or not, the doctor will always do a quick evaluation of the placenta. If it doesn't look healthy, that might mean that the baby has an issue and more tests are needed.
11 Sizing The Baby Up
Before the mom and baby leave the delivery room, the nurse is going to take a moment to size the baby up. There are a lot of statistics that moms and dads look forward to getting about the birth, including the little one's height and size. It's not always an indication that the baby is healthy though, as a 10-pound baby is just as likely to go to the NICU as a four-pounder.
10 Gender Check
Part of the check on the little one is to determine the baby's gender. Even though many women have ultrasounds to find out before the birth, those aren't always accurate; so the doctor will always take a look. It's not as easy as it seems for some because of swelling and other issues. So it can be a true test in the delivery room.
9 Baby's First Retest
The second big test—really, a retest—happens five minutes after the birth. The little one is evaluated on the Apgar model at the five-minute mark because a lot of the babies who struggle in the first minute of life start to catch on in the next few minutes. After five minutes, though, the baby might be rushed to the NICU if things aren't going well.
8 Pinking Up
It's normal for a baby to have blue or pale skin in the first moments of life, but after the circulation gets better, the baby starts to pinken up. The hands and feet might still have a bluish tint for a few days, but the doctor will be looking for an improvement in the baby's skin tone by the five minute Apgar Score.
7 Sugar Test For Some
One of the growing complications for pregnancies these days is gestational diabetes. While many moms are aware that the issue can impact the baby, they don't know that the baby will have sugar tests before they leave the delivery room. That's because if the sugar is high during the birth, the baby could crash afterward. The doctor will keep a close eye on this possibility for a while.
6 Baby's Reflexes
It's hard to figure out how the baby's brain is working right after birth, but a few tests of reflexes can give the doctors a lot of clues. The newborn should have a normal reaction to flex their toes when the doctor touches their foot, and they will startle with movement or noise. The baby will also change their arms to a certain position when they turn their head. Just a few quick tests can figure out if things are working properly.
5 Cord Testing
Some parents sign up for the baby's cord plasma to be harvested, which can save some valuable stem cells in case of a medical issue later in life. Others might need the baby's cord plasma to be tested. That happens if the mom has certain conditions to see if she passed it along to the baby.
4 Better Breathing
For some newborns, it can take a while to get the breathing pattern down pat. While little ones practice breathing in the womb, they have a lot of work to do after the birth. The doctor might have to help in expelling fluid from the lungs and getting the pattern down. Skin-to-skin contact can help in making sure the breathing improves for the five-minute Apgar Score.
3 Newborn Nursing Reflex
If the baby is doing well and getting acclimated to the world, it won't take long before another instinct kicks in. Newborns have a very strong reflex to nurse in the first hour after birth. They will root their little mouths around until they find the right location, and they can even crawl up the mom's body. The latch instinct is greatest in that time. So if all is well, it's a good time to try.
2 PKU Test
Doctors have a number of screenings that are better to do right away, and many times they happen in the delivery room. A number of metabolic disorders can be fatal if they aren't caught quickly, so the nurse often goes ahead and pricks the baby's heel to get a little bit of the red stuff for some quick and important tests.
1 Keeping Up The Heat
While the baby is learning to breathe and do so many other tasks in the first few moments after life has begun, the little body is also trying to figure out how to stay warm. Skin-to-skin contact can help, but it'll be a little while until the baby is ready to regulate the body temperature totally on his own.
Sources: Baby Center, Kids Health