What are Non-Stress Tests & How to Survive One

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Do you have a non-stress test scheduled? Learn why you need one and how to survive one…

When I was pregnant with our youngest one, I had to see the Perinatal Specialist at a near by hospital. I had a wonderful Midwife at the Naval Hospital but because I had a two-vessel cord, they required me to see a Specialist.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my links. For more information please read my disclosure policy here.

Due to the nature of the diagnosis, they required that I undergo non-stress tests on a weekly basis, growth scans once a month, and ultrasounds bi-weekly to check the baby’s blood and oxygen flow.

Don’t be deceived, the non-stress stress is in fact stressful. They tell you that it’s not “stressful” but you’re strapped to a monitor checking your baby’s heartbeat, and have to be still. Definitely not a relaxing time.

You’re still probably wondering why anyone would need a stressful test such as this…

Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

What is a Non-Stress Test?

A non-stress test (or NST) is performed by placing a belt around the mother’s abdomen, or belly, to measure the baby’s heartbeat. They also check for the baby’s movement and activity. Don’t be alarmed if your baby isn’t moving, it doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem.

The little one could just be sleeping!

If the baby is sleeping during the non-stress test a nurse will come in to waken the baby prior to you leaving (American Pregnancy).

Why Would You Need a NST?

If you have a pregnancy with a two-vessel cord like myself, you will be required to have them done weekly.

There are other reasons you may require a NST:

  • The baby isn’t moving
  • You are passed your due date
  • Placenta abnormalities
  • Or, high risk of infection

There was a time that I was extremely worried about our youngest, I ran to the Labor and Delivery ward at the Naval Hospital if I didn’t feel him move.

They conducted a non-stress test there as well. I remember how excited our first born was to see his little brother moving around on the screen. It was the cutest thing.

I know how stressful a non-stress test (NST) can be, I’ve been through too many to count. When I was in my third trimester, they had me doing NSTs at the Perinatal Specialist office and the Naval Hospital!

That was twice a week until my 39th week when I was induced.

Photo by Mel Elías on Unsplash

How to Survive a Non-Stress Test:

Non-stress tests (NST) can take up to 30 to 40 minutes. To help keep your mind off of this stressful time, I’ve compiled a list of things that helped me keep my mind off of it.

Grab your favorite book

I had a lot more time to read back then, and kind of miss it! If you don’t like reading books, bringing a stack of magazines can help keep your mind off of things.

Finding out what shenanigans Miley Cyrus is doing or who is dating who will definitely help you stress less during the NST.

I am more into Nora Roberts and Nicholas Sparks. Many can’t picture it but I am a sucker for romance novels! I actually bought a crime and romance novel from J. D. Robb this past weekend.

Bring your iPod / MP3 player

Don’t want to read a book or magazine? Use your phone, iPod, or MP3 player to listen to your favorite or latest tunes.

Got Netflix or other streaming services on your device? Catch up on some of your favorite TV Shows.

Photo by Chayene Rafaela on Unsplash

Relaxation Apps

When I’m stressed out I like to take in deep breaths… I’ve had a couple panic attacks this year, they’re rough. I stopped what I was doing, closed my eyes, and took slow, deep breaths.

I would recommend yoga to help relax you but we can’t be doing yoga on the little lounge chair now can we?

Take a nap!

When I was pregnant with my youngest, I was still working full-time. I worked 6:30 – 2:30 shifts while the oldest was in daycare. As stressful as a NST was, I knew I had to try to take a cat nap.

Growing a child is exhausting, working full-time, and caring for your family… take a nap mama!

My Final Thoughts

I’m not going to lie to you, this was very stressful for me. I had constant worries of him not moving, not growing anymore… you name it, I thought it.

Not trying to say that you shouldn’t stress out, or that it’s going to be cake with taking a nap, reading a book, meditating, or listening to music.

Trust me when I tell you that it will help you keep your mind off those scary thoughts just for a little bit.

Until next time!


What are Non-Stress Tests + How to Survive Them

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