In the third trimester of pregnancy, knowing your baby’s well-being is crucial. It can be stressful for the mother when she can’t feel or see the baby. But do not worry. You have non-stress tests or NSTs to help you. When are NSTs performed? And how should you prepare for them? Read on to learn more about this crucial prenatal test.
What Is a Non-Stress Test (NST)?
The Non-Stress Test or NST ultrasound uses sound waves to check your baby’s heart rate and movement. A machine sends out a pulse of sound waves that bounce back off your baby’s skin—and then they’re recorded as they return. By looking at these recordings, doctors can see how fast your baby’s heart is beating and how active she is (or not).
The goal of the NST is to ensure that everything is going smoothly with your pregnancy. The test gives doctors a reference point if something goes wrong later in the pregnancy; it allows them to compare current readings against previous ones so they can tell if things are getting worse or better.
When Is a Non-Stress Test Done During Pregnancy?
The test is usually done after the 26th week of pregnancy but may be done earlier if there are concerns about the baby’s health.
A non-stress test is often done during the last three months of pregnancy. This test assesses the baby’s heart rate in response to the baby’s movement. The test can help evaluate how well the baby is doing and whether there are any problems with the placenta or umbilical cord.
You may have a non-stress test if you’re over 35 and pregnant or have an underlying condition like diabetes or high blood pressure. The NST allows doctors to monitor your baby’s heart rate, which can indicate if there are any issues with fetal growth or development.
The test is usually done once a week for high-risk pregnancies and once every two weeks for low-risk pregnancies. Further testing may be needed to determine if the test results cause is abnormal. In most cases, however, the reason for an abnormal result is benign and does not require treatment.
What Are the Benefits of Having an NST During Pregnancy?
Counting baby kicks
There are several benefits of having an NST during pregnancy.
Peace of Mind
An NST can help give you peace of mind by showing that both mum and baby are healthy and progressing normally. If there are any concerns, the doctor will discuss them with you at your next appointment.
It can help mothers monitor the baby’s heart rate, breathing, and movements. You can use this information to ensure that the baby is healthy and developing normally.
Fetal Age Assessment
A nonstress test measures the fetal heart rate in response to the baby’s movements. The test is usually done during the last few weeks of pregnancy when the baby is full-term. Having an NST can help your healthcare provider determine if your baby is getting enough oxygen and nutrients and if the placenta is working correctly.
Monitoring Your Baby’s Health During Delivery
Nurses or midwives perform NSTs at regular intervals throughout your pregnancy. The test measures how well your baby responds to contractions and other stresses, like moving from one position to another.
Your doctor may recommend an NST if there are any signs that something might be wrong with your baby’s health. These include very high blood pressure or an elevated heart rate.
These symptoms present during labour could indicate that your child has been born prematurely or may have trouble breathing after delivery due to complications such as respiratory distress syndrome (RDS).
Monitor Your Baby’s Activity
One of the benefits of having a non-stress test during pregnancy is that it can help to monitor your baby’s activity. The test measures your baby’s heart rate in response to their movements. This information can ensure that your baby is getting enough oxygen and is developing normally.
Predict Fetal Distress
One of the essential benefits of having an NST during pregnancy is that it can help to predict fetal distress. In particular, the NST can help to monitor the baby’s heart rate and breathing patterns. Any changes in these vital signs can indicate that the baby is in distress and may need medical intervention.
Reduce the Risk of Stillbirth
Stillbirth is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a parent. It’s not just a pregnancy loss; it’s the loss of your child. But stillbirths are not inevitable, and there are things you can do to reduce the risk.
One of them is having an NST (non-stress test) during pregnancy. An NST test measures your baby’s heart rate and activity and how much amniotic fluid you have. If your baby is stillborn, there was likely a problem with either or both of these things. An NST can help identify those problems before they become dangerous for your baby.
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Baby’s Movements Through Pregnancy: What’s Normal & What’s Not?
How Can You Prepare for an NST?
You’ll need to have an appointment with your doctor or midwife before coming in for an NST. During this appointment, they may ask you some questions about your medical history.
Make sure that there aren’t any complications that could affect the outcome of the test. For example: if you’ve had multiple miscarriages or if there are any complications with other pregnancies (such as gestational diabetes). You should also tell them about any medications.
What Happens During the Test Itself?
You’ll be asked to lie on a table while your doctor or midwife monitors your baby’s heartbeat through a special device called an electronic fetal monitor.
The monitor records your baby’s heart rate for about 30 minutes. It helps your doctor or midwife check for signs of fetal distress when the fetus doesn’t get enough oxygen because of problems with the umbilical cord or placenta.
If there are no signs of fetal distress, you can go home after the test is over; if there are signs of fetal distress, you may need further tests or treatment from a specialist.
Image Source: iStock
Are There Any Risks Associated With Having an NST During Pregnancy?
While an NST is generally safe, there are a few potential risks to be aware of. First, the test can sometimes lead to false positives. These results suggest the baby is in distress when they are not. It can cause unnecessary anxiety for both the parents and the child.
Also, false negatives are possible, leading to dangerous complications overlooked. Finally, it is worth noting that the NST is not a hundred per cent accurate. While it can provide valuable information about the baby’s health, it should always be interpreted in conjunction with other medical tests and observations.
Overall, the risks associated with NSTs are relatively rare and outweighed by the test’s benefits.
What Are the Results of a Non-Stress Test?
A non-stress test is a way to check the health of your baby. It’s usually done at the end of your pregnancy, around the 38th week.
The test measures how well your baby’s heart is doing by listening to its heartbeat and seeing how it responds to changes in blood flow.
A normal non-stress test means that your baby’s heartbeat is strong and regular and doesn’t change much when you move around or change positions. An excellent non-stress test result may also mean that your baby moves around during the test.
A non-stress test can be abnormal, too. Some things that might happen include:
- Your baby’s heart rate drops below 100 beats per minute (bpm). It could mean something is wrong with your baby’s heart or lungs.
- Your baby doesn’t move much or at all during the test—this means there may not be enough oxygen getting into her body because she isn’t growing as fast as she should be.
- No sounds are coming from your baby’s heart—this could indicate problems with blood flow through her umbilical cord or in her lungs.
Kick counting | Image source: iStock
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