Contraction Stress Test
How It Is Done
A contraction stress test may be done
in your doctor's office or hospital by a
family medicine doctor or an
obstetrician and a trained laboratory technician or
nurse. You usually do not need to stay overnight.
During the test,
you will lie on a bed with your back raised. You will be tilted a little to
your left side so you will not have pressure on the blood vessels in your
belly. Two belts with sensors will be placed around your belly. One belt holds
the sensor that records your baby's heart rate; the other sensor measures your
uterine contractions. Gel may be used on your skin with the heart rate sensors.
The sensors are hooked to a recording unit. The heart rate monitor may be moved
if your baby changes position. Your baby's heart rate and your contractions are
recorded for 10 minutes. Your blood pressure and other vital signs are also
The hormone oxytocin is given in a low dose and
increased until you have three contractions within 10 minutes, each one lasting
longer than 45 seconds. Or you may be asked to massage one of your nipples by
hand to start contractions. If you don't have a second contraction within 2
minutes of the first, you will massage your nipple again. If contractions do
not occur within 15 minutes, you will stimulate both nipples.
After the test, you will be watched until your contractions go away or
slow down to what they were before the test. A contraction stress test may take
How It Feels
You may need to lie on your left side for
the test. This position may be uncomfortable or painful when you are having
labor contractions. The belts holding the sensors may be uncomfortable. Most
women say this test is uncomfortable but not painful.
Fetal heart monitoring may indicate that your baby is having problems when your baby is actually healthy. Fetal heart
monitoring can't detect every type of problem, such as a birth defect.
The risks from having oxytocin include:
- Causing labor to start earlier than your
expected delivery date.
- Causing prolonged contractions that may
cause problems with your baby. The contractions usually stop when the oxytocin
is stopped. You may be given a medicine to stop the contractions. If in the
very rare case that your contractions do not stop, your doctor may recommend