What happens if you fail a non stress test?

March 5, 2010

A non-stress test is a fetal examination conducted in the later stages of pregnancy, generally after the 34th week and especially if the would-be mother is past her due date. It is a way of determining if the fetus is developing normally inside the mother’s uterus, by measuring the activity of its heart with respect to its own movements. It is generally recommended for those women who have experienced complications in the previous pregnancies or are suffering from gestational diabetes or intrauterine growth retardation, which may lead to problems in the normal development of the fetus. Also, if the mother feels that the baby is not moving inside the uterus as frequently as it should, she should report this to her doctor, who may then suggest a non-stress test. The test is fairly simple and absolutely safe and painless. You would merely need to lie still on a table while the doctor records the changes in the heart beat of the baby in response to bodily movements.

This recording is done using a fetal monitoring belt that is attached around the belly of the patient and connected to a monitor.. The monitor screen shows the changes in the baby’s heartbeat over a period of 20 to 20 minutes. The mother is supposed to press a button whenever the baby moves so that an accurate reading of the baby’s heart beat can be taken. Sometimes, if the baby does not seem to move on its own, the mother is asked to drink some sugary fluid in order to stimulate movement inside the uterus. If this does not work, a loud noise is produced near the belly to wake the baby up from sleep and induce it to move. Since the fetus has its own pattern or waking and sleeping inside the uterus, there are bound to be minor variations in the results in each individual case. On an average, the baby’s heart beat should increase by at least 15 beats for a quarter of a minute once every 20 minutes.

The test results are generally coded as responsive and non-responsive. If the baby’s heart beat increases normally with its body movement, it indicates that there are no developmental problems. However, if the heart beat of the baby does not respond significantly to body movement, or if the baby does not move within the uterus even after being stimulated through external means, chances are that the placenta is unable to supply enough oxygen to the baby. However, a non-reactive result does not necessarily mean that the baby is unwell so consult your doctor instead of panicking.

Submitted by M H on March 5, 2010 at 01:01

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