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Photo of newborn infant with a stethoscope on its chest amid blue blankets.
Figure 23.1 Assessment of the Newborn The nurse’s assessment is critical for the care and management of a newborn. (credit: “A Doctor Assessing a Newborn Child” by Lemniscate L/Pexels, CC0)

The nurse is typically the first person to assess the newborn. This is the first time the newborn has been touched outside the womb. Though ultrasound scans and imaging can be done to make educated estimates of gestational age and development, the true assessment can now occur with the newborn. It is important to estimate the gestational age and complete a physical assessment of the newborn within the first few minutes to hours of birth. A behavioral assessment is completed by the nurse to help determine the temperament of the newborn and to best support attachment between the parent and newborn. These early assessments help the health-care provider determine the newborn’s need for future care and evaluations for any findings of concern. In most cases, the newborn assessment is conducted in the presence of the parents, so this is an excellent opportunity for the nurse to explain in lay terms how newborn physiology differs from that of adults and older children.

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