Recently my monthly visits to my baby doctor became bi-monthly visits, which is normal for every expectant mom at 28 weeks. Great! Then I was told because I was AMA I would have monthly growth check ultrasounds. Ok, not sure what that means, but monthly ultrasounds to see my sweet girl sounds wonderful! So last week I was told that because I’m AMA (which I learned means “advanced maternal age”…over 35) I will need to continue visits every other week until 36 weeks, at which time I will be seen weekly, I will continue monthly growth check ultrasounds (yay), I will have weekly BPPs (what?!) and weekly NSTs (again, what?!). What on earth is all this testing? Has obstetrical medicine become like our education system so we have more testing than we can handle and no time to just be pregnant? Don’t get me wrong though, I’m thrilled they’re on constant baby watch to make sure our little one is safe and healthy, but what do all these letters mean?
I found out this week. Yesterday was our second monthly growth ultrasound where we saw our beautiful girl on the big (well small really) screen just sleeping peacefully. We saw her strong heartbeat and watched as the ultrasound tech measured all her pertinent parts to make sure she’s growing and developing just right. And she is! She gained almost 1 1/2 pounds in the last month, though they say she’s going to be little. Fine by me! I’m kind of little myself so I’m just fine with my baby girl following my lead, as long as she’s healthy and strong. Ok, so I’m versed and knowledgeable in growth ultrasounds, now what do I do for this BPP thing? Oh nothing different? Ok. I can do that! Turns out a BPP is a biophysical profile in which the same ultrasound tech watches our baby for up to 30 minutes to make sure she practices breathing at least 3 times and that she moves at least 3 times. Well if we’d been doing this test at 10:00 at night that tech would have been stunned by my daughter’s amazing acrobatic skills, I’m certain. However, since we started the test between breakfast and lunch it happened to be nap time, and I think this munchkin might not be much of a morning person, if you know what I mean. She was enjoying her nap and didn’t have a lot of interest in being roused from dreamland. She succumbed to the prodding and did show us her moves though, and passed her test beautifully. Whew!
Ok, now I know what a BPP is, and for me it’s quite enjoyable! I love seeing what our little girl is up to! Now, on to the NST. The what? The non stress test. Non stress? Not for me! I was stressed! Apparently the non stress part has nothing to do with my anxiety level. The NST ended up being a pretty amazing test too, mainly because our little Kate did it all just right. All I had to do was kick back in the big comfy recliner with two monitors strapped to my belly, and all the baby had to do was her normal thing. Fortunately we did not catch her at nap time for this test this morning so she put on a fabulous show. The NST monitors the baby’s heart rate when she’s active and resting and during my contractions. They look for her heart rate to speed up during activity and contractions and to slow back down at rest. So to me it was so awesome listening to that beautiful strong heart beat doing just what it’s supposed to do, and hearing her movement as I felt it.
I do realize that the point of these tests is because there are risks, and some people are not able to enjoy the tests so much because they’re having them due to complications or other scary factors. I do not take my daughter’s well being for granted in the least, and I’m so thankful that all these tests are available to ensure she continues to thrive. I thank God each and every day for entrusting this little angel to us, and for enabling my body and hers to do and have everything necessary to bring forth life to honor Him. I have been so blessed with a healthy and easy pregnancy, and I’m thankful that I don’t feel like I’m “advanced maternal age”. And now that I know that these BPPs and NSTs are nothing scary, but are amazing and easy tools to monitor and ensure our baby’s continuous healthy growth I would like to tell all AMA moms not to be afraid, not to stress over the frequency of the visits, and to just be thankful that these tools are available for us!