Fetal heart rate monitoring and ultrasound are the primary methods our physicians use to get an accurate measure of how well a pregnancy is proceeding for mother and child. Is the fetus receiving sufficient oxygen via the placenta? Are its anatomy and organs developing properly? Fetal heart rate monitoring provides invaluable screening for any evidence of fetal compromise, while ultrasound gives us the ability to evaluate and assess a fetus' development, estimate its weight and growth, and determine if there are signs of any abnormalities.
The following tests are among the most common we perform in the Antepartum Testing Unit:
The Biophysical Profile (BPP) is a test that measures the health of the fetus during pregnancy. A BPP test may include a nonstress test with electronic fetal heart monitoring and a fetal ultrasound. The BPP measures the fetus' heart rate, muscle tone, movement, breathing, and the amount of amniotic fluid. This test is commonly done in the last trimester of pregnancy.
Non-Stress Test (NST) is a simple, non-invasive test that measures the response of the baby's heart rate to each movement the baby makes. The test is named "non-stress" because no stress is placed on the fetus during the test. The test involves attaching one belt to the mother's abdomen to measure fetal heart rate and another belt to measure contractions. Movement, heart rate and "reactivity" of heart rate to movement is measured for 20-30 minutes.
Doppler Ultrasound is a noninvasive method to assess and measure the fetus' blood flow using ultrasound technology.
Shane Wasden, MD, FACOG
Asst. Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Director, Antepartum Testing Unit
Asst. Attending Obstetrician & Gynecologist