Non Stress Test – Everything You Need To Know

Non Stress Test

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Are you pregnant and have already begun your litany of tests? Does your doctor suggest list upon list of tests you are due? Has she spoken to you about the non-stress test? Do you wonder what the pregnancy non stress test is?

If your doctor schedules a non-stress test for you, and yet you have no idea what it entails, read our post and find out here.

What Is A Non-Stress Test?

A non-stress test or the fetal non-stress test or the fetal heart rate monitoring is a non-invasive test. Doctors usually perform it when you are more than 28 weeks pregnant. The test gets its name as it does not exert any pressure or stress on your unborn baby. It does not pose any form of physical risk to you or your baby. The non-stress test helps monitor your unborn baby’s heart rate and see how the heart rate responds to your baby’s movements.

[ Read: Essential Tests To Take During Pregnancy ]

When Is A Non-Stress Test Done?

If your doctor recommends a non-stress test, it does not mean you or

your baby are at any risk. The test occurs so that your doctor gets crucial information about the oxygen supply that reaches your baby. The test helps provide information about whether or not your unborn baby is in need of any treatment or in case there is a need for immediate birthing.

Your unborn baby’s heart will start to beat rapidly later in your pregnancy whenever your baby is active. In case your unborn baby does not receive enough oxygen, it can cause disruption in the pathways to the heart and cause reduced activity.

There are various factors that your doctor will first check for before she decides whether or not you need to undergo a non-stress test. Some factors that she will consider; how healthy you are and how well your baby will survive if you face an early delivery. Here are a few conditions when your doctor may suggest you go for a non-stress test:

  • If you are pregnant with two or more babies and in case there are any complications for you or your babies.
  • In case you have any medical condition during your pregnancy or that can affect your baby. Some of the most common medical conditions that could warrant a non-stress test are thyroid disease, high blood pressure. Most blood disorders, lupus, type-1 diabetes, kidney disease or any form of heart disease also warrant the need for a non-stress test. (1)
  • When you are in the later stages of a post-term pregnancy, you are over two weeks from your due date but are yet to give birth.
  • If you have faced a pregnancy loss earlier
  • If your doctor feels that your unborn baby faces a decrease in the fetal movements or if there is any possible problem in your fetus’ growth.
  • In some cases, you may be experiencing a condition known as polyhydramnios, a condition in which your unborn baby has too much amniotic fluid around him (2). You could also be experiencing a condition known oligohydramnios, a condition in which your unborn baby has too little amniotic fluid around him (3). In case you have any of these conditions, your doctor will recommend a non-stress test.
  • Sometimes, a very dangerous condition known as Rh (rhesus) sensitization can occur during the second or a subsequent pregnancy (4). The condition occurs if your blood group is Rh negative while that of your baby is Rh positive.
  • In case your doctor is not happy with the results from other prenatal tests that have been done and requires further information.

Depending on your and your developing baby’s overall health, your doctor will suggest the frequency of the non-stress test. The test could be recommended for once or twice a week, and sometimes even as frequently as every day, depending on the need. If the doctor suspects that your baby is not getting enough oxygen, you will be placed on a non-stress test schedule on a daily basis. In case of any sudden negative health change in your unborn baby, your doctor may place you on a daily watch non-stress test as well. As these tests are non-invasive and cause no kind of distress to your unborn baby whatsoever, you do not have to worry about it.

[ Read: What Is The Rh Factor Test ]

Can A Non-Stress Test Cause Any Harm To You Or Your Unborn Baby?

A non-stress test does not necessarily cause any harm to either you or your unborn baby. However, there are certain factors that could potentially affect your health:

  • The test can cause you anxiety, which can lead to other health issues or cause distress to your unborn baby.
  • In some cases, the non-stress test may not be able to pick up on any existing health or medical issues that already exist.
  • Sometimes, the test can tell you about certain problems that don’t exist.

[ Read: Genetic Testing During Pregnancy ]