What Is A Contraction Stress Test?

Contractions are nature's way of guiding women through the delivery process. The pain experienced during labour helps women to adjust and get into the ideal positions that would make the delivery possible.


Generally, babies are able to cope well with contractions. But in some cases, your baby may not receive enough oxygen and suffer from oxygen deprivation, making the delivery a tad less smooth.


So, how do you ensure that your delivery is healthy? Well, you can always perform a contraction stress test.


A contraction stress test is performed to predict if your baby will receive sufficient oxygen from the placenta. It helps you to take the right measures to protect your baby during the birth. Read on to know everything that there is to know about a contraction stress test.

 



Why Consider Contraction Stress Test?


As you may already know, contractions during labour can get severe. In fact, the severity of the contractions also affects your baby.


As you start experiencing contractions during your labour, the oxygen supply, as well as the blood supply in the placenta gets reduced substantially.


Normally, most babies do fine during this period. However, in some rare cases, babies start experiencing a slower heart rate. Without the supply of oxygen and blood, the baby's heart rate decelerates. As mentioned earlier, the contraction stress test enables you to determine how your baby would react to your contractions which would allow your doctor to take the necessary precautions.


The Procedure of the Test


Your doctor would first conduct a non-stress test (NST) to determine the health of your baby. If they find any issues with the baby, they will most likely recommend you to take the contraction stress test. During this, you will be asked to follow either one of the following procedures:


Nipple stimulation


During this procedure, you will be asked to gently massage one nipple until you start experiencing a contraction for at least 2 minutes. If you fail to experience a minimum of three contractions in 10 minutes, you will be required to repeat the same procedure with the other nipple. Each contraction should last for 40 seconds to 1 minute.


Oxytocin Challenge Test (OCT)


Oxytocin Challenge Test is performed only if you fail to achieve the minimum of 3 contractions within 10 minutes through nipple stimulation. To trigger contractions in your body, a dose of oxytocin is administered through an intravenous therapy (IV) in your arm.


The monitor detects the contractions and reads your baby's heartbeat. This test usually takes about two hours to perform.

 



What Do the Results Say?


The following interpretations are derived from the contraction stress test:


Negative


The late decelerations in the baby's heart are not detected at the rate of 3 contractions every 10 minutes.


Positive


The late decelerations in the baby's heart are detected at the rate of 3 contractions every 10 minutes.


Equivocal-Suspicious


Irregular late decelerations are detected with significant variance. This requires a repeat test.


Equivocal-Tachysystole


Presence of at least one contraction that lasts for 90 seconds every two minutes or more, resulting in the baby's heart to decelerate. This also requires a repeat test.


Equivocal-Unsatisfactory


When the tracing cannot be read or interpreted properly, or less than three contractions occur in 10 minutes, the result is unsatisfactory. This too requires a repeat test.



Are There Any Risks Involved?


Contraction stress test is usually a safe procedure. If the administrator of this test is experienced enough, the test will be performed without any risk. However, it is still advisable that you take a second opinion before you take the test.

 

Also read: 10 Interesting Facts About Contraction Pain

 

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