All You Need To Know About the Contraction Stress Test During Pregnancy

All You Need To Know About the Contraction Stress Test During Pregnancy

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It is an intravenous solution of pitocin given usually until there are three contractions in 10 minutes period while the fetal heart beat is monitored electronically. When a lady is pregnant she is made to undergo a number of tests for the safety of baby and herself. Starting from the simple blood test to the complex screening tests there are numerous tests that are done for several different reasons.
One such test is the contraction stress test which is also known as the oxytocin challenge test or simply the stress test. This is done during the time of pregnancy in order to measure the baby’s heart rate during uterine contractions. This test help the doctor evaluate the baby carefully, more quickly and safely.It is done to monitor the fetus, to check the health of the unborn baby. Each contraction squeezes the baby and gives the doctors a chance to see how the baby will withstand the challenges involved in labor. In this article you will learn more about the test and the significance of such tests.

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Purpose of the Stress Test

The reason behind the stress tests is to make sure that the baby inside the womb is getting sufficient oxygen supply from the placenta during the time of labor. While you are experiencing the labor contractions, the blood flow and the oxygen supply to the placenta will slow down temporarily. If the placenta is healthy then it has additional amount of blood which is ready to supply oxygen which are needed for the contractions. If everything goes well and good then there won’t be a reduction in the baby’s heart rate.

But in cases where placenta is not functioning properly the baby will not get sufficient oxygen supply and the heart beat will slow down. This is where the stress test comes for use. This stress test is quite cumbersome, risky and expensive compared to other similar tests. So this is not highly recommended unless you are going through a high risk pregnancy or advised by your doctor.

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When is Stress test done?

It is usually done during the 32nd week of pregnancy or later. If it is a high risk pregnancy, doctors would recommend the first test during 26th to 28th week.

The test can be done in the following situations:

  • When the baby has no stress the heartbeat does not raise enough, during movements it is known as nonstress test. This test is done to make sure that the heart beat of the fetus is healthy. This test is normally done to see how baby’s heart rate changes when baby moves
  • If your doctor feels that you or your baby are at high risk condition
  • When the biophysical rate is low. (For determining this a ultrasound scan is done with nonstress test)