As a professional, one question that often arises is “what does a contraction look like on a NST?” For those who may not be familiar with the acronym, NST stands for non-stress test, which is a common prenatal test used to monitor the baby’s heart rate and movement.

Contractions, as we know, occur when the uterus tightens and then relaxes and are a natural part of the birthing process. But when it comes to monitoring a baby’s heart rate during a non-stress test, contractions can be a cause for concern. This is because a contraction can temporarily decrease the blood flow to the placenta and therefore, to the baby.

So, what do contractions look like on a NST? Generally speaking, a contraction will appear as a large, spiky increase in the baseline of the fetal heart rate tracing. The height and length of the spike can vary depending on the strength and duration of the contraction.

In addition to the visual appearance of the contraction on the NST, the healthcare provider administering the test will usually also note the timing and frequency of the contractions. This information can help them determine if the contractions are likely to be causing any distress to the baby.

It’s worth noting that not all women will experience contractions during a non-stress test. Some women may have Braxton Hicks contractions, which are mild contractions that are often described as feeling like a tightening or hardening of the uterus. These contractions may not be strong enough to affect the baby’s heart rate, and therefore may not be visible on the NST.

In conclusion, contractions can appear as large spikes in the fetal heart rate tracing during a non-stress test. While they are a normal part of the birthing process, they may be cause for concern during a prenatal test if they are frequent or strong enough to affect the baby’s heart rate. Healthcare providers will usually note the timing and frequency of contractions during a NST to help determine if any action needs to be taken to ensure the safety of both mother and baby.