Beaumont Hospital - Farmington Hills
28050 Grand River Ave.
Farmington Hills, MI 48336-5919
(248) 471-8000
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Health Information

Nonstress Testing

What is a nonstress test?

A nonstress test is a type of test done during pregnancy. It measures the heart rate of the unborn baby (fetus) in response to its movements. In most cases, the heart rate of a healthy baby increases when the baby moves. The nonstress test is usually done in the last trimester of pregnancy.

Why might I need a nonstress test?

Your healthcare provider may advise a nonstress test in any of these cases:

What are the risks of a nonstress test?

There are no risks to either the mother or baby during a nonstress test.

How do I get ready for a nonstress test?

You don’t need to do any special preparation before the test.

What happens during a nonstress test?

The test may be done in a special prenatal testing area of the hospital. Or it may be done in your healthcare provider's office.

The procedure may vary, but a typical nonstress test may go like this:

In some cases, the testing occurs during a baby’s sleep cycle, when there is little fetal movement. A special sound (acoustic) device may be used to awaken the baby. It is placed against the mother's belly and makes a noise like a buzzer. This is not harmful to the baby. But it may help a sleepy baby become more active. Your baby may also awaken if you eat or drink.

What happens after a nonstress test?

The provider will remove the belt and transducer and wipe off the gel. You will be told the results of the test. 

Test results of the nonstress test may be:

A nonreactive nonstress test doesn’t always mean your baby has a problem. The baby may simply be asleep. Or it may be nonreactive because the baby is immature. It’s common for preterm babies to have nonreactive nonstress tests, especially before 28 weeks. Your healthcare provider will tell you if you need other prenatal testing.

Next steps

Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know: