According to resuscitation guidelines, heart rate (HR) <100 bpm indicate need for positive pressure ventilation (PPV). The prevalence of bradycardia at birth is largely unknown and has been identified as a knowledge gap by ILCOR. In a population-based study at Stavanger University Hospital, including 4876 newborns, bradycardia was detected in 25% of newborns during the first minute of life, of which 95% did not require resuscitation with PPV. Among the 4% of newborns who remained bradycardic at 60 s, only 20% needed PPV. Two-thirds of resuscitated newborns had HR ≥100 bpm at start PPV. None of the ventilated newborns were breathing adequately at start PPV. This study provides novel population-based data on bradycardia in newborns the first minute of life, to guide decision-making regarding need for and response to PPV.