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What to know about your baby's apgar score

Author: Debbie Nguyen
Published: Jul 22 2013

The nine months leading up to the birth of your child can be one of the most exciting and joyful times of your life. As expectant parents, when you check into the hospital and prepare to go through labor, you usually have every trust that your obstetrician or midwife will guide you through a safe and happy delivery.

Expectant parents do not usually anticipate anything going wrong during their child’s birth. When the unexpected does happen and the child is injured during his or her birth, you may not know how to process all the medical information you are given. Most parents, upon learning that there is a problem with a newborn, react with anxiety, stress, and worry. Because you may be in an emotionally fragile state, you are encouraged to seek legal help from somebody who is emotionally impartial. Get recommendations for a birth injury lawyer in New York or other major metropolitan area before your actual due date.

baby APGAR score

What Is an Apgar Score?

Apgar is actually an acronym that stands for all of the characteristics and actions that medical professionals evaluate immediately after a baby's birth. They scrutinize an infant’s Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration. A baby’s score is taken at one minute after it is born and then again at 5 minutes after its birth. The score indicates how responsive and healthy a baby is following the trauma of being born. Healthy, crying, and responsive babies are given higher scores than infants who are sick and injured.

What are Scores for Sick or Injured Babies?

An infant who is injured during the birth generally receives a lower score. Babies who have injuries may not be able to breathe on their own, maintain a healthy pulse, cry or grimace, or move their limbs as healthy newborns do. A lower score may not be an indication of a baby’s future health, however, it does indicate that the baby experienced significant health problems immediately after birth. Having the score made known to you can help, should you want to seek legal recourse for your infant’s injury.

Indeed, parents of infants who were injured during childbirth have a number of legal options available. Before you take any action or speak with any representative from the hospital or your doctor’s office, you are encouraged to do the following:

Why to Retain Legal Counsel Immediately

As soon as you are made aware of your child’s injury, you should contact the attorney who specializes in medical malpractice that you lined up before your due date. Retaining an attorney immediately before taking any other action will ensure that you have legal advice provided to you from your case’s beginning. Before you talk to your doctor, before you ask what went wrong, or before you ask to see medical records, hire an attorney.

How to Be the Detective and Do the Legwork

Most attorneys will advise you to gather as much evidence as you can to bolster your case. This process could include getting the mother’s medical records, as well as those belonging to the infant. Likewise, you should secure testimonies of people who were in the delivery room. People who witnessed the birth may be able to provide information on what went wrong and what medical procedures were used during the birth. If people have pictures or videos of the birth, these records can also be presented to the court.

Life with a newborn is challenging enough. Having an injured newborn can be life altering. However, parents should not feel like they have no recourse available to them. You are encouraged to hire a lawyer and pursue every legal avenue available to you and your baby. You may be able to prevent another baby from being injured and provide for your own child in the future.

Debbie Nguyen is a designer, blogger and mother of a teen who had an extremely low Apgar score at birth. The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. is a birth injury lawyer in New York which knows that no amount of money can fully repair what is lost by a birth injury, but can help you get the money you need to pay for medical expenses and continuing care that your child may need.

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