Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Still pregnant, plus more tests you may need

After months of anticipation, your due date rolls around, and you're still pregnant. It's a frustrating, but common, situation in which to find yourself. You may not be as late as you think, especially if you're relying solely on a due date calculated from the day of your last period because sometimes women ovulate later than expected. Even with reliable dating, some women have prolonged pregnancies for no apparent reason.
You still have a couple of weeks before you'll be considered "post-term." But to be sure your baby is still thriving; your practitioner will schedule you for testing to keep an eye on her if your pregnancy continues. You may have a biophysical profile (BPP), which consists of an ultrasound to look at your baby's overall movements, breathing movements (movement of her chest muscles and diaphragm), and muscle tone (whether she opens and closes her hand or extends and then flexes her limbs), as well as the amount of amniotic fluid that surrounds her (important because it's a reflection of how well the placenta is supporting your baby). Fetal heart rate monitoring (called a no stress test or NST) will generally be done as well — by itself or as part of the BPP. Or, you may have what's known as a modified BPP, which consists of an NST and an ultrasound to assess the amount of amniotic fluid. Whether you've started testing or not, it's important to keep track of your baby's movements and report any decrease in activity to your caregiver without delay.

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