Monitoring your baby’s well-being is a central feature of your prenatal care. From the most basic, listening to your baby’s heartbeat during your regular exam, to the more complex fetal monitoring for high risk pregnancies, technology allows a more thorough look at the health of your baby.
Non-Stress Test (NST)
Fetal monitoring or non-stress test (NST) prior to labor, is the practice of observing the pattern of the fetal heartbeat over several minutes to determine the baby’s well-being. The equipment used is the same as that used during labor. A monitoring belt is strapped around your belly and data is collected, and transmitted, to a computer that displays the results. It is noninvasive and safe for both mom and baby. In a high-risk pregnancy, this information can reassure you and your doctor on how the baby is doing. To some extent, fetal monitoring can also predict the baby’s ability to handle the stress of labor.
Biophysical Profile (BPP)
There are times in a high risk pregnancy that an additional step is warranted. In that case, your doctor may order a biophysical profile. A biophysical profile (BPP) is a sonogram that is directed at observing your babies behaviors inside the womb. The combined information of the NST and the BPP gives your doctor a more complete look at the health of the baby.
When would a Biophysical Profile be recommended?
- The pregnancy has lasted beyond 40 weeks
- Diabetes in Pregnancy
- Multiple babies
- The amniotic fluid is either too high or too low
- Decreased fetal movements are reported
- A personal history of pregnancy loss
- Other maternal medical conditions
The tests are noninvasive and pose no risk to the mother or baby. All of the above situations can cause a great deal of emotional stress to the entire family. False positives are rare, but can happen. Good communication, between mom and doctor, can help alleviate that stress.