What is antepartum testing?
Antepartum testing examines fetal well-being and is a way to determine that your baby is getting enough oxygen from the placenta. Our experts tailor this type of testing according to your specific needs, especially if there are any conditions that put you and your baby at risk. Antepartum fetal testing is started for all women when they are past their due date. It is started earlier, often after 32 weeks, if there are complications during the pregnancy. The timing and frequency of the tests are individualized according to the needs of your baby. A biophysical profile (BPP) and a nonstress test (NST) are the most common antepartum tests.
The Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Northwell Health offers comprehensive services to pregnant women with complex obstetrical and/or medical complications. Women with diabetes, high blood pressure and multiple gestations are among those included in this group.
Both North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center are designated Regional Perinatal Centers (RPCs) for high-risk obstetrical and neonatal management. In addition, both facilities receive patient referrals and consultations from doctors’ offices and hospitals across Northwell Health.
As RPCs, North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center deliver the most comprehensive obstetric and perinatal care. Our services are provided by specialists in maternal fetal medicine along with specialists in all areas of adult and pediatric medicine. We offer diagnostic obstetrical ultrasound, and use the latest treatment methods for women with complicated pregnancies. There is a High Risk In-Patient Unit at each hospital specializing in antepartum care for women in need of prenatal hospitalization. Babies with prenatally diagnosed heart conditions and birth defects requiring specialized care at birth are delivered at Long Island Jewish Medical Center attached to Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center. This provides immediate access to a multidisciplinary team of pediatric surgeons, anesthesiologists and neonatologists.
Why it's done
Antepartum testing is dependent upon your medical condition, with the most common conditions including diabetes or hypertension. Other reasons for testing include preeclampsia and fetal conditions, such as growth restriction.
The types of antepartum tests include:
- A biophysical profile, which can be done with or without a nonstress test
- Doppler ultrasound
Antepartum testing is noninvasive, and there are no risks associated with these tests. If there are any concerns with the results of the test, you might need extended monitoring or may be admitted to the hospital where you might have to deliver the baby early.
How to prepare
You do not need to do anything special to prepare for the tests ahead of time, but you should allow ample timing for a Northwell Health expert to conduct the tests.
Antepartum, which means occurring or existing before birth, is the name of the unit that you may be admitted to should you require specialized in-hospital care for you and your baby prior to being ready to deliver.
An antepartum testing unit (ATU) is a specialized unit that is staffed by a team of maternal fetal medicine specialists and other providers, nurses, ultrasound technicians and clerical staff. In the ATU, your physician can conduct:
- Fetal ultrasound
- Biophysical profile
- Doppler ultrasound
- Amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling
- High-risk pregnancy consultation
What to expect after treatment
Depending on the results of an antepartum test, the management of the rest of your pregnancy could change. You may need to come into the office more frequently for monitoring. Delivery timing may also be moved up sooner.