Amniotic Fluid: How Important it is during Pregnancy

Your baby lives and grows in the amniotic fluid. The baby drinks and passes waste in the form of urine into the water and any changes in the amount of fluid are a major cause of concern. These changes are called polyhydramnios and oligohydramnion (too much or too little water) and you have to be aware of these conditions.

Polyhydramnios

When your amniotic fluid is over 800ml

In your late pregnancy, if your amniotic fluid is twice that of which is considered normal then you are suffering from polyhydramnios. The fluid should usually be around 700ml around 7 months pregnancy, particularly between 24 to 27 weeks, and then should drop to around 500ml towards the end of your pregnancy. If the fluid is over 800ml then this condition could result in a miscarriage.

Mommy's blood sugar levels and baby deformities

It is unclear why a pregnant woman will gain excessive water in their tummy but this condition is known to cause swelling of the baby's brain, underdevelopment of the baby's brain, deformities in the spine and cause digestive problems.

The baby while in the tummy will drink the amniotic water and urinate maintaining a constant level of water. However, if there are any problems with the baby and the baby is unable to regulate the amount of water in the sac, then this will lead to polyhydramnios. Other conditions that are known to cause polyhydramnios are diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and syphilis. All pregnant woman need to be careful during their pregnancy as there are few signs to indicate that your water level is either too low or too high and you will just appear to be having a normal pregnancy.

The baby’s risk of dying is now much higher

Having too much water in your tummy will greatly increase the chances of having an early labor or the placenta peeling away from the uterus resulting in a higher risk of miscarriage. You will experience trouble breathing, trouble walking and increased pain in your tummy due to the increased amount of water. You may require a stay in the hospital where they will use a needle to remove some of the excessive water from the amniotic sac.

Can lead to an early labor

Due to the fact you have too much water in your tummy, the pressure could break your water and lead to an early labor which is difficult to prevent. There is a possibility that the umbilical cord could detach from the placenta and you must seek medical help immediately if this happens. The greater the amount of water you have in your tummy, the higher the risk of death for the baby and also for the placenta to peel away from the uterus which can cause greater bleeding after giving birth. You also risk cervical incompetence after you give birth which could affect your next pregnancy.

Oligohydramnion

When your amniotic fluid is lower than 100ml

Oligohydramnion is the condition when your amniotic fluid is less than 100ml. The reason for this condition is not clear but experts think that it is related to the baby's inability to urinate due to a blockage or kidney problem. The condition could also be caused by some kind of genetic disorder or by the mommy's high blood pressure. If the pregnant woman gets this condition early on in the pregnancy, then the baby is at risk of suffering from both muscle and bone deformities and possible lung problems.

Usually happens 2 to 3 weeks before giving birth

If your uterus feels very small and it always feels like the baby is very close to the womb wall, then it could be oligohydramnion. It usually appears 2 to 3 weeks before your pregnancy due date and it is possible the woman’s weight might drop and have some placenta problems.

Deformity of the baby

As oligohydramnion increases the risk of a baby developing a deformity by 10-15%, it is important to have a test for possible deformities such as heart problems. With very little fluid in your tummy, there will be increased pressure on the umbilical cord and this will cause possible development problems and even death for the baby. Unfortunately, there is no way of treating this condition.

Tips Box: What is Amniotic Fluid?

Changes in the amount of amniotic fluid in your tummy is caused by the baby urinating and passing waste into the fluid and also by the placenta using some of the fluid to help maintain a healthy blood flow to the baby.

The amniotic water acts like a cushion for the baby protecting it from bumps and sudden movements, and allows the baby to move around freely so its bones and muscles can properly develop.

The fluid also helps regulate the baby's temperature ensuring that it remains constant regardless of the external temperature. The amniotic fluid prevents the baby getting too hot or too cold due to the external temperatures.

In a normal pregnancy, the amniotic sac filled with water is allowing the correct amount of pressure on the cervix to help open the birthing canal and after the water breaks and you start to give birth, the water acts as a lubricate helping the baby to come out.

Above mentioned are conditions encountered during pregnancy regarding the amniotic fluid. As always, safe pregnancy should still be practiced.

Sandra Henderson
 

Editor-in-chief at Babiology and a proud mother of four passionate about sharing pregnancy and baby growth knowledges

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