Non-Stress Testing

Mothers and babies might need extra attention during the pregnancy, which may include the need for a non-stress test (NST). An NST is a simple, painless procedure. Nursing professionals will be monitoring your baby’s heartbeat, which is a way of evaluating your unborn baby. They will listen to and record the baby’s heartbeat while the baby is resting and while the baby is moving. It usually takes 20 to 40 minutes to complete an NST.

Why is a Non-Stress Test performed?

  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Small baby or baby not growing properly
  • Baby not moving as much as we’d like it to
  • You are past your due date.

When will Non-Stress Testing be done?

If needed, the NST is typically done either once or twice a week. We will try to coordinate your NST with your routine physician appointment.

  • Please eat before the test because some babies move more after their moms have eaten.
  • You will be more comfortable if you empty your bladder before the NST. You will be asked to lie on your left side for the test. The two fetal monitor pieces will be placed on your abdomen and held in place by elastic belts. One piece records the baby’s heartbeat and movement and the other device records any contractions of your uterus.
  • We will be looking at the baby’s movement and heart rate. Just as your heart beats faster when you run up a flight of stairs, your baby’s heart should beat faster when kicking and moving.
  • The NST is reactive if the heart beats faster when the baby moves. This must happen at least two times in 20 minutes. If your baby is quiet and not moving, the nurse may give you juice or water to drink.
  • The NST is nonreactive if the heart does not beat faster when the baby moves or if the baby is quiet and not moving. This does not mean that something is wrong! It simply means the NST has not given us enough information. Additional tests may be needed, such as a biophysical profile or contraction stress test.

Where will the NST be done?

The NST will be performed at the Spencer Hospital Birth Center. You will need to register when you arrive at the hospital. Even if you have an NST twice each week, please check in at registration prior to coming to the Birth Center.