Being pregnant is an exciting, confusing, overwhelming and strange experience. While it’s most exciting and a bit overwhelming, it can be confusing and strange when you have to take tests, have lab work done and have your body poked and prodded to check on the health of your baby. It’s all natural and it’s all part of the prenatal care package your doctor provides you with. One of these tests is a pregnancy stress test, referred to commonly as a non-stress test.
The good news about non stress tests is that it’s a noninvasive procedure. If you never had a pregnancy stress test, be thankful. This is the kind of test only given to women who have higher risk of difficulty during pregnancy, such as prenatal death. If you aren’t a high risk pregnancy, you won’t be required to take a pregnancy stress test. However, if your doctor recommends it, it’s a wise decision to go ahead with the test.
This type of pregnancy stress test is typically performed once you reach at least 26 weeks in your pregnancy. All it requires is the monitoring of your baby’s heart rate to see if the baby is developing at a good pace or if the baby seems to have any stress on it’s heart. This is done with a Doppler radar that is strapped to your belly. Your doctor might perform a few tasks while you are being monitored, but it’s all common practice.
You’ll do this test right in your doctor’s office. The entire thing takes around 20 minutes. Your doctor will place two belts around your belly. One is for recording the baby’s heart rate and the other is for recording whether or not you have any contractions during your stress test. Your doctor will take your blood pressure several times throughout the test to make sure that it’s at a healthy level. As the baby moves, your job is to press a button to indicate that your baby is moving. What your doctor is looking for is to see whether or not the heart rate of your baby picks up speed as her or she moves around. Since you’re pushing a button to indicate when the baby moves, your job during this stress test is vital.
How your baby’s heart rate responds to movement is a good indicator of how health your baby is. As your pregnancy progresses, your baby’s heart beat picks up. However, if your baby’s heart rate isn’t picking up over time, it could indicate that there are issues in your pregnancy. This test is typically recommended for women who are carrying more than one baby, women who have other health problems unrelated to pregnancy, women who are still pregnant two weeks past their due date, baby’s who have stopped moving as often inside the mother’s womb, women who test positive for rh, baby’s who have either too much amniotic fluid or too little amniotic fluid in their sac, and women who’ve experienced other abnormal results from some of their other prenatal tests.
The results of this stress test can help your doctor decide whether or not you need additional testing, if your birth plan needs to change or if your risk of pregnancy loss increases.
Your doctor will discuss his or her findings with you after the test is complete. Your baby’s heart rate will fall into one of two categories; either reactive or nonreactive. When it falls into the reactive category, all is well. Your baby should have a reactive heart rate, meaning that the rate picks up significantly when your baby is moving. If your baby’s heart rate is nonreactive, it means that the heart rate of your baby does not change with the baby’s movements. It is important to understand, however, that your baby might be sleeping while you are tested. If your baby is sleeping, his heart rate is not going to react to his movements and your worries are for nothing.
However, if your baby’s test is nonreactive, your doctor will perform secondary prenatal testing to ensure that it wasn’t just because the baby was asleep. How your doctor reacts to your baby’s heart rate and health depends entirely on the results that come from his or her secondary prenatal testing.
If your doctor recommends that you complete a non stress test during your pregnancy stress test, it is important to remember that this does not indicate anything negative. Sometimes you just have a condition that makes it necessary to perform this test. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with either you or your baby; it just means that you need to take the test to be sure there is nothing to worry about.