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Health & Pregnancy

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Contraction Stress Test


A contraction stress test checks to see if your unborn baby (fetus) will stay healthy during the reduced oxygen levels that normally occur during contractions when you are in labor.

Results of the test tell your baby's health for 1 week. The test may need to be done more than once during your pregnancy.

Contraction stress test 1

Normal test results are called negative.

Your baby's heart rate does not get slower (decelerate) and stay slow after the contraction (late decelerations). Note: There may be a few times during the test when your baby's heart rate decelerates, but it doesn't stay slow so it is not a problem.

If three contractions occur during a 10-minute period of nipple stimulation or oxytocin infusion and there are no late decelerations in your baby's heart rate, your baby is expected to be able to handle the stress of labor.


Abnormal test results are called positive.

Your baby's heart rate gets slower (decelerates) and stays slow after the contraction (late decelerations). This happens on more than half of the contractions.

Late decelerations may mean that your baby will have problems during normal labor.

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

What To Think About

  • A contraction stress test may show decelerations when your baby is not actually having problems. This is called a false-positive result.
  • Some doctors use oxytocin instead of nipple stimulation because nipple stimulation can cause long, uncontrolled contractions.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 04, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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