Nonstress and contraction stress testing is a simple way to check the well-being of your baby-whether it is getting enough oxygen and nutrients from your blood. The tests let your doctor know whether it is best to deliver your baby right away, or to wait.
What to Expect During Your Test
- At your doctor's office or hospital, you lie down on your back or side in bed, or you recline in a chair.
- A fetal heart monitor (a wide strap or cloth band holding an ultrasound device) is placed around your abdomen in the area where the baby's heartbeat is the loudest.
- Another device is placed to measure contractions of your uterus and your baby's movements.
A nonstress test (NST) allows your doctor to monitor your baby's heartbeat while it kicks and stretches. If the heartbeat increases normally during the test, it means that your baby is probably getting enough oxygen and nutrients from your blood.
A record of the movement of your baby is compared with your baby's heart rate. The length of the test depends on how active your baby is.
Contraction Stress Test
The contraction stress test (CST) tells your doctor whether your baby's heartbeat is reacting normally during mild, labor-like contractions, and so offers a preview of how well your baby will withstand the stress of labor.
To stimulate mild contractions in your uterus, your doctor will give you an IV medication. Or, you will be asked to stimulate your nipples.
Be sure to discuss with your doctor any questions you have about these procedures.