A biophysical profile can be done in your health care provider's office or in a hospital. The test might take anywhere from five minutes up to an hour to complete.
During the test
During the nonstress test, you'll lie on an exam table. You'll likely have your blood pressure taken before the test and at regular intervals during the test.
Your health care provider or a member of your health care team will then place a belt across your abdomen. The belt contains a sensor that measures the fetal heart rate. Typically, the test lasts 20 minutes. However, if your baby is asleep, you might need to wait until he or she awakens to ensure accurate results. In some cases, your health care provider might try to awaken the baby by using sound from a special device.
During the ultrasound exam, you'll also lie on an exam table. Your health care provider or an ultrasound technician will apply a small amount of gel to your abdomen. Then he or she will roll a small device called a transducer over your skin. The transducer will emit pulses of sound waves that will be translated into a pattern of light and dark areas — creating an image of your baby on a monitor.
Your health care provider or the ultrasound technician will then evaluate your baby's breathing movements, body movements, muscle tone and amniotic fluid level. The ultrasound might last five to 30 minutes or so, depending on whether your baby is awake, or there's a wait time until your baby awakens.
After the test
When the biophysical profile is complete, your health care provider will likely discuss the results with you right away.
March 05, 2015
- Manning FA. The fetal biophysical profile. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 29, 2015.
- Signore C, et al. Overview of antepartum fetal surveillance. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 29, 2015.
- Frequently asked questions. Pregnancy FAQ098. Special tests for monitoring fetal health. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Special-Tests-for-Monitoring-Fetal-Health. Accessed Jan. 29, 2015.
- Gabbe SG, et al. Antepartum fetal evaluation. In: Obstetrics: Normal and problem pregnancies. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 29, 2015.
- Cunningham FG, et al. Fetal assessment. In: Williams Obstetrics. 24th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2014. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Nov. 15, 2011.
- Young BK. Nonstress test and contraction stress test. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 29, 2015.
- Taking a close look at ultrasound. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM095487.pdf. Accessed
- Lalor JG, et al. Biophysical profile for fetal assessment in high risk pregnancies. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000038.pub2/abstract. Accessed Jan. 29, 2015.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee on Practice Bulletins — Obstetrics. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 146: Management of late-term and postterm pregnancies. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2014;124:390.
- Oyelese Y, et al. The uses and limitations of the fetal biophysical profile. Clinics in Perinatology. 2011;38:47.