What is a Fetal Fibronectin Test?

What is a Fetal Fibronectin Test?

Some pregnancies are more challenging than others.  One of the biggest issues facing the third trimester is the risk of premature labor.  If you have ever made trip after trip to labor and delivery to have your contractions monitored, you know just how stressful those early contractions can be.  As I was going through this myself in recent weeks, I discovered a really helpful test, called the fetal fibronectin test.

The fetal fibronectin test is able to detect a certain protein, fetal fibronectin, that is used to help adhere the fetal sac to the uterus.  As labor nears, the sac begins to loosen, and this protein can be detected as secretions in the vagina and cervix.  It is usually not detectable between weeks 24 and 34, so its presence then can be an indication that early labor is nearing.

A positive result can indicate that labor is approaching, but a negative result is more accurate and is where the fetal fibronectin test can really give some answers.  According to the March of Dimes, less than five percent of women with a negative result will deliver within the next two weeks. 

A positive result does not necessarily mean that labor will occur immediately, but if a woman has a negative result, it is generally safe to avoid preventive measures such as bed rest, steroids or hospitalization.

If you have been dealing with premature contractions, ask your doctor or midwife to perform this simple test to help rule out preterm labor and avoid unnecessary interventions.