Antepartum Testing

Antepartum testing includes other ways we can view and monitor your baby before birth.

Nonstress Test (NST)

Mothers and babies who need special medical care and attention may need a NST. An NST is a simple, painless procedure that monitors your baby’s heartbeat. We will listen to and record the baby’s heartbeat while the baby is resting and while the baby is moving. It usually takes about 20 to 40 minutes to complete the test.

Why is an NST performed?
You may need an NST if you:

  • Have diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have a small baby or if the baby is not growing properly
  • Have a baby that is less active
  • Had an amniocentesis
  • Are past your due date

Who will do the test?
A registered nurse who specializes in fetal testing will perform your NST. The test result will be interpreted by a provider.

When will I have a NST?
A physician will typically order a NST to be performed once or twice a week depending on the reason for the test. You may also have these in addition to ultrasounds and visits with our providers. We work with you to try and coordinate these appointments so they’re all together in the same day. However, sometimes this isn’t possible.

What can I expect during the NST?

  • You’ll sit comfortably in a recliner with two fetal monitors attached to your abdomen. One monitor records the baby’s heartbeat and movement. The other 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. This is reassuring for fetal well-being.
  • After the test, a maternal fetal medicine specialist will review the results as well as any recommended testing or interventions.

Biophysical Profile (BPP)

A BPP is a simple, painless procedure to check the overall well-being of your baby. A sonographer will use an ultrasound machine to look at your baby’s movement, amniotic fluid and breathing.

Why is a BPP performed?

You may need a BPP if you:

  • Have diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have a small baby or if the baby is not growing properly
  • Are past your due date
  • Have too much or too little fluid around the baby

Who will do the test?
A nurse and a sonographer will each perform portions of the BPP. 

What can I expect during the test?

  • You’ll sit comfortably in a recliner with a monitor attached to your abdomen. A monitor records the baby’s heartbeat and movement. 
  • We will be looking at your 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. This is reassuring of fetal well-being.
  • For the second part of the test, the sonographer will use an ultrasound to look at your baby’s position and movement. The nurse will also measure the fluid around the baby and look to see if your baby is “practicing” breathing.
  • After the test, a maternal fetal medicine specialist will review the results as well as any recommended testing or interventions.