What you can expect

A nonstress test is usually done in your health care provider's office.

Before the procedure

You'll have your blood pressure taken before the nonstress test begins.

During the procedure

During the nonstress test, you'll lie on a reclining chair. You'll have your blood pressure taken at regular intervals during the test.

Your health care provider or a member of your health care team will place two belts with monitors attached to them across your abdomen. One belt will record your baby's heart rate, and the other will record any uterine contractions you might have. You'll be asked to note when your baby moves. Your baby's movements will be noted on the fetal heart record. Your health care provider will look to see if your baby's heart beats faster when he or she moves.

Typically, a nonstress test lasts 20 minutes. However, if your baby is inactive or asleep, you might need to extend the test for another 20 minutes — with the expectation that your baby will become active — to ensure accurate results. Your health care provider might try to stimulate the baby manually or by placing a device on the maternal abdomen that makes a noise.

After the procedure

After the nonstress test is complete, your health care provider will likely discuss the results with you right away.

Feb. 23, 2016
References
  1. Gabbe SG, et al. Antepartum fetal evaluation. In: Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 15, 2016.
  2. DeCherney AH, et al. Assessment of at-risk pregnancy. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment Obstetrics & Gynecology. 11th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Jan. 15, 2016.
  3. Young BK. Nonstress test and contraction stress test. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 15, 2016.
  4. Frequently asked questions. Pregnancy FAQ098. Special tests for monitoring fetal health. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Special-Tests-for-Monitoring-Fetal-Health. Accessed Jan. 15, 2016.
  5. Cunningham FG, et al. Fetal assessment. In: Williams Obstetrics. 24th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2014. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Jan. 15, 2016.
  6. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee on Practice Bulletins — Obstetrics. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 145: Antepartum fetal surveillance. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2014;124:182.