Fetal testing such as a biophysical profile at this stage is not routine. It is done for a specific reason, such as to check the well-being of an overdue baby (at 41 weeks or beyond) or to assess the functionality of the placenta. Because you have gestational diabetes, your doctor wants to watch the baby extra closely during these last weeks of your pregnancy.
A biophysical profile uses ultrasound and takes from 20 to 60 minutes to complete. The baby is scored between zero and two points for each part. A total score below eight indicates a need for further testing. The least common of the three tests, a Doppler flow study, uses ultrasound to assess the rate of blood flow in the umbilical blood vein and in the baby’s arteries, brain, and heart. The procedure is much like a regular ultrasound exam, except that the test uses color to differentiate the blood vessels. Waveforms on an ultrasound screen show variations in the rate of the blood flow. Decreased flow may indicate that the baby is not receiving enough blood, nutrients, and oxygen from the placenta.
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Ask Tori RN®, by registered nurse and resident author of The Joy of Pregnancy, is a helpful and reassuring resource for parents-to-be.
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