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Nonstress and Contraction Stress Tests

Nonstress and contraction stress testing is a simple way to check the well-being of your baby. The tests let your health care provider know whether it is best to deliver your baby right away, or to wait.

Be sure to talk to your health care provider if you have questions about these procedures.

Pregnant woman lying on exam table with straps around belly. Straps are connected to machine.What to Expect During Your Test

  • At your health care provider'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.

  • A device is placed to measure contractions of your uterus,  and another device is used to measure your baby’s movements.

Nonstress Test

A nonstress test (NST) allows your health care provider to monitor your baby’s heartbeat. Your baby's movement is reflected in heart rrate accelrations on the NST. If the heartbeat increases normally during the test, it means that your baby is probably getting enough oxygen and nutrients from your blood.

During NST

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.

During CST

To stimulate mild contractions in your uterus, your doctor will give you an IV medication. Oxytocin is almost always used.


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