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Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I'm scheduled for a nonstress test soon... what should I expect? And what exactly is my doctor looking for?

Re: I'm scheduled for a nonstress test soon... what should I expect? And what exactly is my doctor looking for?

The Bump Expert

Good news: The nonstress test lives up to its name, both for you and baby. It's totally noninvasive, and poses no risk to baby. Be prepared, though -- it can easily take up to 40 minutes (make a bathroom stop first!), and might be a little noninteresting for you.

The nonstress test evaluates baby's wellbeing by measuring how her heart rate responds to movement. It's a fetal monitoring method, meaning the purpose is simply to check on her well-being -- not cure a problem or ensure that baby's born healthy. It's normally performed after 28 weeks, most often in post term and high-risk pregnancies.

For the test, a Doppler device will be strapped around your belly with a belt. The device is attached to ultrasound transducers which measure baby's heart rate. At the same time, baby's movements will be recorded, either with another device placed around your abdomen or a button that you press. If baby isn't doing much moving, she's probably snoozin'. Your doc may use a (completely safe!) buzzer-like device to create sound and vibration to wake her, or ask you to eat or drink something to encourage a stir.

What's your doc looking for? Ideally, baby's heart rate will quicken when she moves. If this isn't the case, there could (meaning no need to freak out!) be a problem with baby's health, and your doc may recommend repeating the test or doing another procedure such as a contraction stress test. If baby doesn't respond after an hour and a half or so, you also may be asked to repeat the test.

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. Your pregnancy and birth. 4th ed. Washington, DC: ACOG; 2005.

The Bump Editors

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I had one yesterday- Two monitors wrapped around my belly- Mine took an hour and she wasn't reacting very well- so i then was transferred to the hospital to be monitored on better equipment and after another 90 minutes or so she finally woke up and started giving them the results they wanted. They scheduled another test for , 4 days from now-. It was no big deal- except i started to stress out...!

jessstarksherrill |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

is this test standard? only one person responded. this doesn't sound necessary unless there's risk, but I'm a first-time mom, so don't listen to me!

loflo1 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

Dont worry if you dont get this done but im pretty sure you will by the time your due date gets close its just 2 circlular shaped moniters that are strapped around your belly and it checks for your babys heart rate and your contraction.....i get this done 2 times a week but only because wen i was 7 months my bby was detected with arythmya wich ment her heart beat would go low and then would go back to normal rate so they did the monitering wich is really called moniter fetal heart rate teasting but everything seems much better now :)

EileenO12 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

interesting. i started testing last week. my doc wants me to have this test twice a week until i deliver (i'm 39 weeks today). she hasn't indicated any problems to me and when i went to take the test the second time they asked me if i knew why the doc was sending me again. so far all my test look good. the only thing i can think of is that i'm 40 and this is my first baby, but so far my pregnancy has been completely normal. oh well, at least she's thorough.

robindameshe |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

i had this done on tuesday he wasn't giving them what they wanted in the dr office so i was sent to the hospital too and they let me drink a coke to get him active and after a while they sent me home with they number to there desk back in l&d for if he starts hardly moving agian oh yeah i'm 35 weeks pregnant today

stepmomto2 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I'm 36 weeks and my doctor also wants me to take this test twice a week until my baby is born because he only weighs 5 lbs and she says that's 2 weeks behind where he should be. I took the first test last night for 20 minutes and he passed without any problems. I have another ultrasound on Tuesday morning and hopefully his weight will have increased.

SweetPea4482 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

This test seems pretty unnecessary. I mean, if your insurance is paying for it and you have the time, go for it. I just think healthy babies are born without it, though. :) And it also seems like babies, born or unborn, have a hard time doing what people want when they want, so it creates stress for mommy when there's nothing to stress about.

srmmm09 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

Because my baby is measuring big, over 6 pounds at 35 weeks, and there is more fluid than normal, I was scheduled for the test two times a week until he arrives. It is a precaution basically because of the size and the excess fluid. If all things were normal we would not need the test.

Michellec777 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

My doctor mentioned that I was going to have these tests since I just found out I'm having twins (I'm 11 weeks right now)!! But I haven't gone for one yet though!

shorty2826 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I am 40 and this is my first baby - I'm 34 weeks and have a NST scehduled this week and another next week. Whether it is "covered" by my medical plan or not, if the doctor is recommending it, I am trusting the need being this has been a "high risk" pregnancy for me. If nothing else, I take comfort in "knowing" and my doctor being thorough. Hopefully the doctor you're seeing is one you completely trust in his/her judgments as to what tests you should have. Good luck to all expectant moms out there! I can't wait!

tiggerss7 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I am having this test done on Friday, since I am almost 40 wks and having no signs of labor. I was told that the purpose of the test is to be sure the baby is doing all right despite being past term. From what I understand, they will wrap two monitor belts around the belly to track baby's heart rate and activity level. If you're worried about baby not cooperating, try eating or drinking something just before your appt to get her moving.

nautilus416 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I am 34 weeks and was told today that I need to have a NST done every week from this point on due to me being "high-risk". I have borderline/mild pre-eclampsia so they are making sure that the baby is still doing well regardless of my high blood pressure and proteinuria (high protein levels in my urine). Hopefully it is covered by insurance since it is like a preventative measure but it will be good to know if our little girl is doing ok. :)

Heidiand04 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

Im having non stress tests bi-weekly, Im a high risk pregnany, and I have bi-weekly OB visits. Im getting really exhausted and Im even being made to do tests at home. 2 weeks is to far.

Netty91 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I'm 34 weeks and I was told I needed to have a NST done next week during my regular appointment. I have hypothyroidism that is very well controlled, but my doctor wanted to go ahead and start monitoring me closer, just to be on the safe side. My ultrasound showed all the normal progression for someone of 34 weeks. Its no biggie and usually has nothing to do with how healthy your baby is. Do your best not to let it stress you, even if your baby refuses to cooperate.

jlocke11 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I'm pregnant with our 6th and have never had this test. I think the doctor orders it only if you are having other complications or are very near or past your due date and don't feel the type of movement that reassures us moms that baby is healthy and active in there.

emmaagnes |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

i had a positive ffn and was dilated 1 cm at 31 weeks so they put me on the monitor a few times that week to check for contractions/to make sure the baby had a consistent heartbeat (she did!) and then just last week at my 36 week appointment my doc couldn't get a good baseline established with the little handheld doppler so i went back on the monitor so she could check out her overall rate, which was fine. it seems like a pretty standard procedure as your pregnancy progresses into the late 3rd trimester, it just helps the doctors get a bigger picture of how the baby is doing =)

agemmell |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

i went in today at 33wks to have a nonstress test because i hadn't felt my baby move since yesterday and they wanted to be sure she was ok. this test is very easy just lay on the bed and listen to the machine they wrap two straps around your belly and give you a button to push if you feel her. they had a tv on too but i only started watching it once she had moved.

skyeworden |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I go in tomorrow for my NST. Everything has been perfectly normal- but now that I'm 5 days past my due date, my doctor just wants to make sure the baby is ok and has enough fluid. I don't want to be induced, but I'll go through anything to make sure my little guy is born happy and healthy!

LilyLomeli |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I am 36 wks today and I am scedualed to go n tomarrow morning for the test. This is my 4th pregnancy but the only time I have ever had to have this test done. W this pregnancy I have been diagnosed w gestational diabetes n am on 2 meds plus insuline shots last week they done an ultrasound he weiged 5lbs n 1 oz n that was 4 days ago. So i was really worried cause i thought something might b wrong w my baby boy

tennbutterfly |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

Starting at 35 weeks I've been getting the NST during my weekly appointments. I was told they are doing them weekly from 35 weeks until I deliver because I'm 35 years old, right at the cutoff of being "high risk" due to my age. My doctor told me for women 40 years old and older they start them at 32 weeks. It's the best way they can make sure the baby is doing what he/she is supposed to be doing. I like it because I get to sit and drink orange juice and relax and see how my baby's heartrate chages when he moves and how many braxton hicks I am having (contractions).

bubbles42 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

My Midwife is having me do NST's bi-weekly and I'm not happy about it! I live an hour away from the Birthing Center and have to make that trip 3 times a week now! 2 for the NST and once for my regular checkup. Also because of time restraints, schedules and my husband's work schedule, I can't get my regular checkup on the same day as one of the NST's... so 3 times a week I have to spend the day exhausted so I can have unnecessary testing done. Not my cup of tea! Also, the reason behind the tests, which I've just started this week (38 weeks, 1st bab), is because my BMI is too high... Because I'm too "Fat" they are worried about the baby's well being. And here I thought everything was going just fine! All my number and tests and baby's have been spot on perfection... but just in case! NST's for me! : (

AutumnPaige22 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I had a stomach virus a few weeks ago and got too dehydrated. I decided to go to the hospital because I felt so miserable and knew that my baby wasn't getting any nutrients because I couldn't keep anything down at all. They put me on the monitor and were acting like I was over-reacting sort of. My dr told me to just go in if the medication wasn't helping. So when I did, I thought it would be no big deal, just an IV with fluids. Once the monitor started going the nurse changed her attitude. The baby's heart rate was 190-200. So she said that the baby was stressed because of my dehydration and that she would get my IV going before she went to call the dr. Within 20 minutes my little guy was feeling better and had a normal rate. I can't imagine if I had chosen to not go and to just wait for the virus to pass. The nurse told me that I did the right thing and to trust my instincts. All of this is to say, if you are in the position of questioning yourself....please go with your gut! I almost didn't go because I didn't want to be a hypochondriac. Thursday I start twice weekly NSTs. I will be 33 weeks pregnant by then. I am high risk. It is annoying, yes. However, there is really no other way to tell just by how I feel if my baby is doing well. I would rather be safe than sorry. Try to think of it as an opportunity to hear your baby's heart beating. It's a bonding opportunity kind of, and you can hear when they have hiccups too. I don't know...just trying to find something good about it for all of us! :)

toosamom |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

It seems like maybe this test is just for people with special circumstances. I am 38 weeks and my doctor has not mentioned this test at all. It seems like it wouldn't be a big deal if she did, but in my case (and probably most other low-risk pregnancies) it isn't necessary.

ThomasandAlison |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

At 31 weeks my OB said I would have to come back in 2 weeks and from then on weekly and I would also have to have NST at each visit (I think). I'm considered a high risk pregnancy because I had high blood pressure (though very well controlled) prior to my pregnancy and I also have gestational diabetes. I'm not really all that concerned about the test and I agree with everyone else...what ever is best for the baby is what I'll do.

wardens2003 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I am a high risk patient. I have 1 son who is 7 yrs. old, had a miscarriage, and now pregnant again with a little girl. I am borderline diabetic and taking medicine to help me and our little girl. We saw the specialist last week and he has me coming in twice a week for a nonstress test because he says it's just because I am taking medicine. Our little girls heartbeat has been fine the whole pregnancy and she's been really moving.

pjsmom2004 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I am 4 days beyond my due date, and my doctor ordered a NST for my visit today to monitor her heartbeat against her movements. This is my first pregnancy, I'm 32, and my pregnancy has been normal and low-risk. This test to my understanding is simply to help you and your doctor understand that your baby is still doing well in there and everything leading up to delivery is still on task. While there are no reasons for concern at this point, we've also scheduled and AFI (Amniotic Fluid Index) evaluation in a few days (Which will be 7 days post due) to ensure there's enough fluid around the baby. And if the baby still hasn't come after 10 days post due, I will be induced, which I had to request from my doctor since naturally we are so anxious to meet our little one! I've heard some doctors will allow moms-to-be to go as long as 42 weeks before inducing, but that seems like an eternity to me.

dutchb |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I went to the doc's last week for my now every 2 week visit, I'm 32 weeks. Very early on, I'd probably say around 18 weeks they saw that my placenta was low and then around 27 weeks I found out I had gestational diabetes. So when I went in for my last visit she mentioned something about monitoring the baby twice a week for the remainder of the pregnancy through non-stress tests to make sure everything is going all right. It scared me at first but she said it was just a precaution because with the diabetes the risk of stillbirth is higher and they just want to keep a close eye on the baby. So i have my first NST scheduled tomorrow afternoon and then I have another scheduled for Friday as well as an ultrasound to check to see if the placenta has moved and also how big the baby is getting, due to the diabetes.

MissMyMom |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I didn't know that's what this test was called!!! I JUST had one yesterday as my ultrasound showed a low level of amniotic fluid :/ Luckily for me, baby was awake and showing great signs of being healthy so I only had the monitors on my belly for 20 minutes. BUT I have to start going in twice a week now instead of the normal once a week, and was asked to drink lots of fluid and try not to be super active... OH and I am 37 weeks along as of yesterday, THANK GOSH I DON'T HAVE MUCH LONGER TO GO!!

Trissa19firsttimemommy |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I am currently 26 weeks pregnant with mono-di twin boys. I just went in to see my OBGYN and she did let me know that I am going to start the NST test in two weeks.. and see her every two weeks... I do not have gestational diabetes.. everything has been smooth in this pregnancy.. I think everything will be ok.. I trust her completely, so what she says I do.. I have a 3 yr old girl at home.. when I was pregnant with her I never had a NST done.. =)

dsantaof5 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I don't see a reason why you shouldn't take the test, if ur Dr. has scheduled it just do it, it's a check up on babys health, I wouldn't consider it a waste of time. Yeah it might be boring but u never know better safe than sorry, out of all the poking and proding we've been thru and still have to deal with this seems the least of your worries, besides I love any chance to get to hear and feel my baby's movement. So pls don't neglect any chance to check up on your baby.

anaid84 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I have GD and have been getting a NST 2 times a week since I was 31 weeks. (i'm now 37wks) I also feel like they are a little overkill. Last week I had one and the baby wasn't moving the way they wanted it to. (but it was moving fine before I got hooked up to the monitors). They almost sent me to the hospital to get monitored for several hours!!! Luckily when they took the monitors off me the baby decided not to be stubborn anymore and moved 4 times in like 5 minutes so they let me not go into the hospital. I wondered what would happen if I would have went to the hospital and it wouldn't have moved more what would they have done? I asked and I never really got an answer...Would they have induced me??

shorty2104 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I'm 36weeks and had an ultrasound measuring the baby to only weigh 4.5pounds, and it's breech. My doctor scheduled a NST for my next visit, didn't really say why, but I'm guessing because me and the baby are measuring so small. I just hope everything goes well and the baby will turn so I can avoid a C-section.

cherie04 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I am only 30 weeks but have to go in for a NST this week.... My blood pressure has been spiking and they are concerned I will not make it full term. I hope everything goes well and the baby can stay in my belly at least another 5 weeks :)

amandaljohnson |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

My doctor is having me do them routinely until birth (I am 36 weeks now) simply because I am an IVF pregnancy. It is rather relaxing listening to baby's heartbeat so I don't mind it...it can just take up some time!! I would just ask for some juice or something to eat while you are there to make sure your baby starts moving.

tritons05 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I don't think it's anything to stress about. I'm pregnant with baby number 4 (19 weeks currently). I have never had an NST before, but because I will be 35 when the baby is born which puts me in the high risk category, I will be going for weekly NSTs when I hit 32 weeks despite everything being perfectly fine to this point. I'm not concerned about it.

kfur269 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I believe it is necessary if you're considered high risk or over the age of 35. I am 36 and just had 1 yesterday at 34 weeks and he wants to have 1 every week until delivery. It is to make sure the baby is getting enough oxygen through the placenta and that the baby is not under any distress. Mine only took about 20 minutes and all was good!

pslohr |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I have been going for twice-weekly NSTs since 32 weeks (I'm 36 weeks now) and will continue to do them until I deliver because I have Type II Diabetes. Doctors worry about fetal distress a lot more with diabetes, so I also have weekly ultrasounds since 32 weeks. The test is simple, but can be very frustrating if your baby doesn't cooperate! My baby boy doesn't like to move when other people or machines are trying to monitor him - he's a bit ornery. And reclining on an examination table for over an hour (when he's not cooperating) is rough on the hips. But it is reassuring to hear his heartbeat so often. I make sure to have eaten a meal (not a snack, a whole meal) within the last hour and a half of the appointment, and I bring a bottle of apple juice to drink AFTER I've started the test. Those two things usually help get him active enough to finish the test in under 30 minutes.

Kk6669 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

This isn't even necessarily for "high-risk". For instance, if you have gestational diabetes my doctor doesn't monitor. If I need to be on meds (glyburide, which I do) then it's a 2x a week monitoring schedule. My baby is so active I'm out usually within 20 minutes.

aibrean |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

My doctor recommended the test be done once a week because after 35 (I just turned 36) you are medically considered of "Mature Maternal Age" and tagged as High Risk. Its the legal'ese' of it all. I haave no complications other than my age. This is my second child and I had the first of the series this week. It took about 40 minutes, I worked on my laptop and watched the View and put my feet up. The nurse explained the results when I was done and did a simple sono to determine how much amniotoic fluid was surrounding the baby. All was normal and I get to repeat it next week. As the test says...NON STRESS TEST. Relax and don't worry too much.

Sharmell219 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

i am 40 wks as of yesterday, and my due date is today, i am schedualed for a NST this thursday and i believe an induction date is to be discussed..im just wondering if anyone knows how many days the doctors will let u go past your due date before they induce???

BentleysMomma22 |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I have one of these coming up. I didn't realise so many people had this done. I thought it must be a super rare procedure since I'm having it done since I'm 30 weeks and haven't had amniotic fluid since before week 24 so the doctors want to see if cord compression is happening, so they'll check with the non-stress test. Apparently there are other reasons to do it since so many others have had it done!

justjusti |

Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

I am 26 weeks and will be starting them in 2 weeks. I have gestational hypertension. this is my 2nd child. almost a 10 year difference. I just turned 30. had preeclampsia with my first.

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Q&A: Nonstress test during pregnancy?

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