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Assessing newborn cardiac status

In this video, Dr. Victoria Kain from Griffith University, demonstrates the process of examining the cardiac status of the newborn.

Time to assess the baby’s heart beat.

After you’ve assessed the chest and respiratory status of the newborn, auscultate for heart sounds. These are best heard along the left sternal border (left side of the chest bone). Physiological murmurs may be heard in the first few days of life as the newborn adapts to extra uterine life.

The normal heart rate for a newborn is 100–160 bpm and the rate should be regular.

If you have experience, you can also palpate for pulses. Palpation of femoral (groin) pulses should be part of routine assessment of the newborn. Pulses should be present bilaterally (both sides), with a regular rhythm (Kain & Mannix, 2018). Take note of and report weak or absent pulses, as these are of concern (Queensland Clinical Guideline, 2014).

Your task

Listen to these audio file examples of a normal newborn heart rate. Note: you will need to click back to return to this course window.

Next, if you have questions or comments about assessing cardiac status, please post them using the link below.


Kain. V. & Mannix, T. (2018). Neonatal Nursing in Australia and New Zealand, 1st Edition. Australia: Elsevier.

Queensland Clinical Guideline (2014). Routine newborn assessment.

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Assessment of the Newborn

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