Amniotic fluid is essential to the life of your baby while he is still in your womb. His lung, limb, muscle, and digestive development are all made possible by this fluid. It also allows him more freedom to move in your womb as his body undergoes more changes. During your second trimester, your baby will begin to swallow the amniotic fluid, and will need it in order to breathe properly.
The formation of amniotic fluid is initiated in as early as 12 days after you conceive your baby, right after the amniotic sac is produced. In the beginning, your body will provide the water that makes up the fluid. At around the sixth month, this will be replaced by your baby’s urine. Unfortunately, there may be a chance that the amount of amniotic fluid available in your womb is below or above the normal levels. While lack of fluid is called oligohydramnios, the opposite is called polyhydramnios.
What Are the Symptoms of Low Amniotic Fluid and How to Tell Them?
Detecting low levels of amniotic fluid immediately may pose a challenge, as it has no guaranteed symptoms. Thus, even if your fluid levels are lower than normal, there may or may not be physical indicators that you have something wrong. Nonetheless, if you suspect that there is a problem, do not hesitate to contact your doctor.
A ruptured amniotic sac may be causing your low levels, giving you a constant feeling of wetness as you experience leakage of your vaginal fluid. You may also notice that your belly looks smaller than it is supposed to, depending on the stage of your pregnancy. Your baby may also be impaired in his mobility, so you might not be able to feel him kicking and moving around too much. Other factors include elevated blood pressure, diabetes, preeclampsia, or lupus.
An ultrasound is a good way to examine what is going on inside your womb. The sonogram will be able to measure the amount of fluid in four separate pockets in your uterus. If the total measurement does not add up to at least 5 centimeters, your amniotic fluid level is too low. Want to know more about amniotic fluid?
What Causes Low Amniotic Fluid?
|Birth defects||There may be a chance that your baby is not developing very well inside your womb. If there are issues with his urinary tract and kidneys, he could be producing very low amounts of urine, which is the primary component of amniotic fluid at this stage.|
|Placental problems||If there is something wrong with your placenta, your baby’s supply of nutrients and blood will suffer. This will cause him to stop recycling his bodily fluids, stopping his urine production and depleting your amniotic fluid.|
|Leaking or rupture of membranes||A single tear in your membrane can cause fluid to leak out of your womb. This leak may either be a strong, continuous flow, or a slow dribble. In any case, this premature rupture of membranes (PROM) will cause your amniotic fluid to decrease.|
|Post-date pregnancy||Carrying your baby for more than 42 weeks will cause your placenta to deteriorate and lose its function, thereby reducing your amniotic fluid.|
|Maternal complications||Several difficulties that may arise during your pregnancy can also play a part in lessening the amount of fluid in your womb. These include, but are not limited to, hypertension, diabetes, preeclampsia, dehydration, and chronic hypoxia.|
|Carrying twins or multiples||The risk for having low levels of amniotic fluid increases if you are carrying more than one baby in your womb. If you have twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, particularly, it is also more likely for you to develop polyhydramnios. Because your babies share a single placenta between themselves, one of them may end up receiving too little amniotic fluid, while his twin will get too much.|
How to Treat Low Amniotic Fluid
Methods of treating women with low levels of amniotic fluid are dependent on their gestational age. If you are nearing full term, your doctor will usually recommend an early delivery. However, if you are only in your early or middle stages of pregnancy, you will be closely monitored and subjected to a number of different tests. These include the non-stress and contraction tests, which are great for checking on your baby and his activity. Other treatments may also be used, including the following:
|Amnio-infusion||An intrauterine catheter may be used for amnio-infusion while you are undergoing labor. It will add to the amount of fluids in your womb, which provide the necessary padding and support around your baby’s umbilical cord while your delivery is ongoing. This also decreases your probability of having to undergo a C-section.|
|Injection of fluid||Amniocentesis is a procedure that involves injecting fluid into your uterus. This allows doctors to get a proper visual of your baby’s body and form. However, this is only a temporary treatment, and there is a big chance that your oligohydramnios will act up again after about a week.|
|Maternal rehydration||Adding fluids to your womb, either orally or through the use of an IV, can be a big help in rehydrating you and returning your amniotic fluid levels back to normal.|
|Vesico-amniotic shunts||Vesico-amniotic shunts can remedy your oligohydramnios by counteracting fetal obstructive uropathy. This condition causes a blockage below your baby’s bladder, preventing him from releasing his urine into your amniotic fluid. The shunts work by redirecting his urine into your uterus, effectively setting the fluids to the proper level.|
|Bed rest||Complete rest will allow your intravascular space to grow bigger, encouraging production of more amniotic fluid. It will also help if you keep yourself hydrated to help with the healing process.|
Unfortunately, severe cases of amniotic fluid imbalance may leave you with no choice but to terminate your pregnancy. This is especially true if you are only in your first trimester, entering your first stages of pregnancy.
How to Prevent Low Amniotic Fluid
Unfortunately, an abnormally low amount of amniotic fluid cannot be prevented if its causes are unknown. Nevertheless, employing certain methods may still help you minimize your chances of getting oligohydramnios.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a well-balanced diet.
- If you are a smoker, stop immediately.
- Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
- Consult your doctor if you want to take any kind of medication, including herbal supplements and vitamins.