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Biophysical Profile

closeup of sonogram

A biophysical profile is a simple, painless procedure. We will be listening to the baby’s heartbeat using the fetal monitor. We will observe the baby’s heartbeat while the baby is resting and while the baby is moving. We will also use an ultrasound machine to look at your baby’s movement, amniotic fluid and breathing motion. It will take 40 to 70 minutes to complete the biophysical profile. This test is performed to check for the well-being of your baby.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is a biophysical profile performed?

Some common reasons for a biophysical profile include:

Who will do the test?

A nurse who specializes in fetal testing will perform the biophysical profile.

When will the biophysical profile be done?

Biophysical profiles are usually performed once or twice a week. You will be given an appointment for your next test. We will try to schedule your biophysical profile on the same day as your doctor’s visit.

What can I expect during the test?

  • We would like you to eat before the test because some babies move more after their moms have eaten.
  • You will be more comfortable if you empty your bladder before the biophysical profile. For monitoring the baby’s heart rate, we will ask you to lie on your left side. The two fetal monitor pieces will be placed on your abdomen and held in position by elastic belts. One piece is to record the baby’s heartbeat. The other device is to record any contractions of the uterus.
  • We will be looking at the baby’s movement and heart rate. Just as your heart beats faster when you run up a flight of stairs, your baby’s heart should beat faster when kicking and moving.
  • For the second part of the test, the nurse will use an ultrasound machine to see what position your baby is in and watch the baby’s movement. The nurse will also measure the fluid around the baby and look to see if your baby is “practicing” breathing.
  • The results of the biophysical profile will be explained to you after the test is completed by the nurse.
Where will the biophysical profile take place?

The test will be performed in the Fetal Assessment Center, which is located on the second floor of the Nelson/Harvey Building, room 278. Please bring your Johns Hopkins Hospital plate and insurance information for each scheduled test.

Once the test is completed, it is reviewed by a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, and recommendations for ongoing testing/intervention are made.

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