Pre-birth fetal monitoring is designed to prepare you and your doctor for your birth and to give warning signs if anything is abnormal with your baby. Since your baby can’t tell you if anything is wrong, your doctor needs to carefully monitor him or her throughout the pregnancy. The following tests may be necessary if you have a high-risk pregnancy (including women with diabetes and women who have had complications with previous pregnancies) or if you are past your due date.
A non-stress test is an easy way to determine if your baby’s heart is working normally. If your baby is healthy, his or her heart rate should rise and fall from time to time without any stress. To test this, the doctor will use a fetal monitor like the one used during labor. The doctor will not introduce any stress to the situation, but will look for small fluctuations in the baby’s heart rate without the presence of stress. He or she may simply ask you to rub your hand on your stomach, or may make a loud noise above the abdomen. If the baby’s heart rate does not rise, further testing may be necessary to make sure the baby is doing well.
Contraction Stress Test
A contraction stress test evaluates how well the baby will hold up under the stress of labor. During labor, contractions temporarily restrict blood and oxygen supply to a baby. This test will simulate labor using a hormone called oxytocin to induce contractions. If the baby’s heart rate does not speed up after a contraction, this may indicate that he or she will struggle during labor.
A doctor may want to do a biophysical profile if the baby is not reactive enough in the non-stress test. This test uses detailed ultrasound scanning to look at fetal movement, fetal body tone, fetal breathing, and the amniotic fluid. Your doctor may also choose a modified biophysical profile, in which he or she only looks at the amniotic fluid volume.
These tests can clue the doctor in early to any potential complications that could arise during labor, which can potentially avoid serious birth trauma or birth injuries. Abnormal results in any of these tests may lead a doctor to recommend that you deliver early or undergo a cesarean section.
If your doctor failed to appropriately carry out one of these tests or another, you may have been the victim of medical negligence. Contact the birth injury attorneys at Anapol Weiss if you have any legal questions about what happened during the birth of your baby.