In the final trimester, some tests are necessary to monitor baby's health if the mother is a high risk candidate for some medical complications from the start, develops medical complications during pregnancy or passes week 40 without delivering. These tests will either reassure the mother that all is well or if baby needs to be delivered immediately. Nonstress test is a simple, painless procedure in which a baby's heartbeat is continuously monitored for 20 minutes or more and the details are recorded for evaluation. The logic behind the test is, that like adults, a baby's heartbeat should accelerate when it is active i.e. moving and kicking. The nonstress test can be done whenever the need arises so there is no specific time for it.
Who needs the nonstress test..
- Women with preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes
- Women with pregnancy-induced medical conditions such as hypertension
- Baby is less active than normal
- Baby is small for its age
- Amniotic fluid is either too much or too little
- Women who have previously lost their babies in the second half of their pregnancies
- Women with pregnancies continuing after week 40 to basically check on the well- being of baby
Why the nonstress test and what it means..
- Nonstress test is basically performed to evaluate on how the baby is doing inside. How often you need the test will depend on your doctor; it can be every week or more often till the baby is born.
- The test result is considered to be normal or reactive if baby's heart beats faster on two separate occasions during the 20 minute span.
- If baby is resting the result will most likely be non-reactive. However if results persist to be non-reactive even after one hour, it doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong with the baby.
- Results may also be non-reactive due to baby's age; babies below week 32 have not hit the required maturity for reactivity.
- The test time may be extended or the mother may have to go for more comprehensive tests like biophysical profile
- If your doctor is absolutely sure that baby is not thriving inside, the labor may be induced
The Procedure itself..
- You will be made to lie down on your left side. Two electronic devices will be strapped to your belly
- The transducer ultrasound will monitor baby's heartbeat
- The other device will record any uterine contractions felt by the mother
- If there are no movements, the technician may wake baby up with a buzzer
- The test takes about 20 minutes to an hour
- It will be sensible to pee and tuck in a snack before the procedure as the whole thing can last for an hour.