Amniotic fluid level varies each trimester and increases as the pregnancy progresses. At 17 weeks, the fluid volume is usually 250ml and elevates to 800ml during the third trimester at about 34 weeks.
What is Amniotic fluid?
A liquid that shields and serves as a pillion for the growing fetus. The fluid accelerates the exchange of water and nutrients between the mother and her developing infant for healthy growth.
The functions of amniotic fluid:
- The amniotic fluid prevents the umbilical cord from being compressed to enable the shipment of food and oxygen from the mother to the unborn infant.
- The fluid regulates the temperature of the fetus and provides it warmth.
- It eases the movement of the fetus in the uterus and enhances its muscle development.
- Protects the unborn baby from harm caused by blows or when the mother accidentally stumbles.
- It helps in enhancing the fetus’s lung development when it breathes through the amniotic fluid.
- Amniotic fluid helps with the development of the fetus’s digestive system.
Amniotic fluid should be clear or lemon-yellow. When it looks brownish or greenish and produces a foul
smell, it means that the baby has excreted its first poop, also known as meconium, in the womb. Hence the mother should seek urgent medical attention.
The level of amniotic fluid can be low or high and may cause harm to the unborn baby in different
Low Amniotic Fluid
It’s scientifically known as oligohydramnios which implies that the level of amniotic fluid is inadequate for the growth of the fetus. A recent study shows that 4% of pregnant women experience a low level of amniotic fluid.
What are the causes of oligohydramnios?
- Diabetes-Pregnant women with type 1 and 2 diabetes have a higher chance of experiencing low amniotic fluids.
- Post-term pregnancy -When the third trimester has elongated to 42 weeks, this can lead to a conceiving woman having less amniotic fluid.
- Placenta abruption-If the placenta detaches from the uterus before the due date for the baby to be born, it can cause insufficient amniotic fluid.
- Dehydration-less water in the body of an expecting mom can lead to less amniotic fluid.
The symptoms of oligohydramnios include:
- Extreme weight loss.
- The fetus has stopped its movement in the uterus.
- Leakage of vaginal fluid.
The complications of oligohydramnios are:
- Miscarriage-Defined as the unforeseen loss of pregnancy before the 20th week.
- Stillbirth-This is the death of a fetus in the uterus after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Infections-It may lead to the growth of germs and bacteria inside the body.
- Preterm birth-When a baby is born early, before 37 weeks.
How can the low amniotic fluid condition be treated?
1. Frequent Hydration.
Research showed that drinking an adequate amount of water during pregnancy increases the level of amniotic fluid. Hydration also reduces the risk of urinary tract infections which may cause oligohydramnios.
2. Healthy Diet.
These include plenty of vegetables and fresh fruits, adequate proteins, and enough carbohydrates.
3. Giving birth at the appropriate time.
Your doctor or midwife may suggest giving birth at 36 or 37 weeks, where induced labor might be an appropriate remedy to facilitate faster delivery.
4. Periodic Antenatal Checkups.
Oligohydramnios is detected, by ultrasound, where a healthcare provider evaluates the amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus to determine its level.
High Amniotic Fluid
Also best known as Polyhydramnios is where there is over sufficient or excess amniotic fluid during pregnancy. 2% percent of pregnant women usually experience high amniotic fluid.
What causes Polyhydramnios?
- Anemia-Its a condition where there are inadequate red blood cells in the body.
- When the fetus does not absorb enough amniotic fluid., this may expedite increased fluid level.
- Gestational diabetes-An illness that originates when hormones produced during pregnancy makes insulin ineffective and causes a high level of amniotic fluid.
- The fetus has contracted germs and bacteria(infections).
- Multiple birth-If a woman is pregnant with more than one baby, the amniotic fluid volume will increase to sustain the fetus inside the uterus.
The symptoms of Polyhydramnios are:
- Dyspnea-Having breathing difficulty.
- Pollakiuria– Frequent urination.
- Constipation-Problem with passing stool or infrequent bowel movements.
- Gastroesophageal reflux-Uncontrollable heartburn.
What are the complications of Polyhydramnios?
- Prolonged labor-Labor that goes on for more than 18 hours.
- Postpartum hemorrhage- Polyhydramnios can lead to uncontrolled bleeding after labor.
- Placenta abruption-High amniotic fluid causes the placenta to separate from the uterus prematurely.
- Preterm delivery-Babies are usually born before the delivery time of 37 weeks.
- Death-Both mother and the unborn infant have higher chances of losing their lives.
Treatment for high Polyhydramnios.
1. Medication-Use of an oral medication called Indomethacin (Indocin), which reduces the production of fetal urine and the volume of the amniotic fluid.
2. Amniocentesis-Process draining a sample of amniotic fluid from the uterus for testing. The results will help the healthcare provider to determine whether to drain excess amniotic fluid to reduce its volume.
3. Labor induction-A doctor or midwife should induce labor before the due date between 37 and 39 weeks.
4. Treatment of underlying conditions such as diabetes caused by pregnancy hormones.
The amniotic fluid level usually increases with time as it corresponds with the gestation period of the pregnancy. Below is a table showing how amniotic fluid volume varies with the duration of pregnancy.
Amniotic Fluid Volume
|8 Weeks||15ml (The amniotic fluid increases by 10ml/wk.)|
|17 Weeks||250ml (The amniotic fluid increases by 50ml/wk.)|
|28-38 Weeks||750ml-1000ml (The amniotic fluid decreases after 34 weeks.)|
|Full term pregnancy||500ml-1500ml (The normal volume of amniotic fluid required.)|
While it’s a good idea to monitor your amniotic fluid level during pregnancy, it is even more important during the third trimester.