You’ve arrived at the last section of our Keeping Track of Baby’s Health Blog series. If you’ve missed the others, feel free to click on the links below to learn everything you needed to know about:
For our final installment, we’re providing an overview of the monitoring tests that will be offered or advised at different times throughout your pregnancy, labor and delivery.
If you’ve just found out you’re pregnant or are learning more about your current pregnancy and upcoming delivery, contact the team at Overlake to schedule a consultation. We’d love to be a part of providing well-rounded, grounded and mother/baby-centered prenatal care to facilitate the best possible outcomes for you and your baby.
Monitoring Tests for Baby
Monitoring tests are designed to provide information about the baby while he or she is still in the womb. In most cases, they are not used until later on in the pregnancy.
There are four common monitoring tests available when the time is right:
Fetal Movement Test. Also called a Fetal Kick Test, this test requires no special equipment or monitoring technology. It can be performed by yourself and/or a healthcare professional by keeping count of how many times a baby kicks and/or moves in a set time frame – typically two hours. The caveat is that all babies are different, and some babies are more active than others. For this reason, do not panic if you feel your baby seems to be moving less than “normal.” Babies have sleep and wake cycles that last anywhere from 20-minutes to two or more hours at a time (sort of like when they’re out the womb).
To keep records for a fetal movement test, you simple note how many times you feel the baby kick, twist, roll or stretch in a two-hour period. The average healthy baby will move at least 10 times in a two-hour window. Again, notice we said, “average?” Your baby might be having a quiet day, or might be quieter in general. Other things that can affect fetal movement include maternal blood sugar levels (if things seem quiet, drink a glass of juice and baby might respond several minutes later), eating habits and your own work/sleep schedule.
If the baby doesn’t move 10 times in less than two hours, do the test again. If the count comes in low again, contact your healthcare provider and let them know.
Non-Stress Test. Just like you, your baby’s heart rate goes up when he or she moves. So, a non-stress test uses a fetal heart-rate monitor to measure the baby’s heartrate when it moves. For a healthy baby, movement should cause the heart rate to increase. This is considered “reactive.” If the test comes back “non-reactive” it can indicate a problem, but it more often is a sign that your baby is sleepy or reacting to a medication you’re taking or to a change in your resting/active patterns. If the test comes back “non-reactive,” your midwife or OB will want to look into it further to make sure the baby is well.
Contraction Stress Test. This test also uses a fetal heart rate monitor but it is done while you are contracting. When the uterus contracts, the baby’s heart rate can speed up or slow down, depending on what is going on in there, and/or how the baby is positioned. A healthy fetal heart rate is between 110 and 160 beats per minute. If it remains consistently above or below this range, it will raise red flags for your labor and delivery team.
Contractions may occur naturally, or they may be induced using the natural method of nipple stimulation or by administering a medication called Pitocin (a synthetic oxytocin).
Biophysical Profile. This is a compilation of multiple tests and results that all combine to evaluate the well-being of the baby. For a biophysical profile, your healthcare provider will examine the results of ultrasound, fetal movements and non-stress tests. She will also examine the baby’s breathing motions, the amount of amniotic fluid present (amniotic volume) and fetal tone.
The comprehensive analysis of these tests and results will yield a specific numerical “score” for your pregnancy, called the Manning’s Score. A Manning’s or Biophysical Profile Score (BPS) score of 8 to 10 is good, if the score is lower than that, your doctor may use additional diagnostic testing to see what’s going on.
Have questions about the fetal monitoring or other tests designed to promote the health of you and your baby? Contact us here Overlake OB/GYN.