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Stress Test

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Updated February 18, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

This is an external fetal monitor used to listen to baby in labor.

This is an external fetal monitor used to listen to baby in labor and for certain tests like the stress or non-stress test.

Photo © iStockPhoto

Why the test is done:

This test is done to see how well the baby will respond to the stress of contractions during labor.

How the test is done:

Usually a small amount of Pitocin will be given, and you will be monitored to see how your baby responds to the contractions via the electronic fetal monitor.

When the test is done:

This test is usually done at the very end of pregnancy, prior to an induction.

How the results are given:

Pass or fail.

Risks involved:

May start labor, may cause fetal distress.

Alternatives:

Non-stress testing or biophysical profile.

Where do you go from here?

If the baby passes you may either be left alone for other testing and to wait until natural labor starts. You may be induced, or a cesarean birth may be decided upon if your baby does not appear to deal well with contractions.

Sources:

The Labor Progress Handbook. Simkin, P and Ancheta, R. Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition.

Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. Gabbe, S, Niebyl, J, Simpson, JL. Sixth Edition.

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