The clear, slightly yellow tinted liquid that surrounds the foetus in your womb is called amniotic fluid. This fluid is present within the amniotic sac and it plays a crucial role in your baby’s life support and development. During the second trimester, the foetal urine makes up a good percentage of the fluid.
The fluid also contains antibodies, nutrients and hormones. Amniotic fluid has several functions. It serves as a cushion for the developing foetus and protects it from injury. The fluid maintains the right temperature in the womb and it helps in the growth and development of lungs, digestive system, muscles and bones. The most important role of amniotic fluid is that it prevents the umbilical cord from being compressed, thereby preventing any kind of hindrance to the foetal food and oxygen supply.
The Right Amount of Amniotic Fluid
The ideal amount of amniotic fluid varies at different stages of gestation. Normally, the level of amniotic fluid increases steadily up to the 34th week of pregnancy. Around this time, the sac contains about 900ml of fluid. After this stage, the amount of fluid gradually decreases until child birth, to around 400ml.
Deficient Amniotic Fluid
When there is a lesser amount of amniotic fluid, the condition is called oligohydramnios. Women with this condition, however, have normal pregnancies. Sometimes, this condition can affect the foetal growth and development.
Tips for Detecting Less Amniotic Fluid
There are no prominent signs to decipher if there is right amount of fluid in the sac. However with medical aid and on careful monitoring you can figure out the levels.
Decreased Foetal Activity
A decline in the foetal movement is the most prominent sign of oligohydramnios. During any time of the day, sit quietly and monitor the baby’s movements. Under normal conditions, you should feel ten movements in two hours. Perform this analysis twice a day. A drastic reduction in the baby’s activity can be linked to low levels of amniotic fluid.
Leakage of Fluid
While this is not common, some women may notice a rush or slow leakage of fluid from the vagina. This indicates a membrane rupture and it requires immediate medical attention. Loss of fluid reduces its levels in the sac.
In most cases low levels of amniotic fluid are uncovered during your regular prenatal ultrasound appointments. An ultrasound can help the doctor estimate the total volume of the fluid by measuring the fluid pockets.
The Right Solutions
There are certain short term solutions for oligohydramnios. Most women who do not undergo any kind of treatment other than hydration have healthy babies. However, doctors may recommend close monitoring. The most effective solutions are as follows.
When a pregnant woman drinks lots of water, the foetal water level increases. With enough hydration, the volume of placental blood flow increases manifold, thereby enhancing the foetal urine. This can increase the amniotic fluid levels.
Intra Venous (IV) Hydration
When the oral fluid intake is not sufficient, fluids are administered intravenously. The fluid that is utilized is electrolyte rich. This method of hydration can increase amniotic fluid levels rapidly.
This is a technique in which artificial saline solution is pumped into the amniotic sac with the help of a catheter. This can increase the amniotic fluid levels. Some practitioners use amino infusion when the baby is not in the right delivery position.
Sealants of the foetal membrane are used when the fluid levels drop due to a leakage or rupture. These sealants can affix the rupture and increase the level of fluid in the sac. However, the efficiency and safety aspects of these sealants are still a matter of debate.
Bed rest is advised to improve the levels of amniotic fluid. Doctors recommend lying on your left side to facilitate adequate circulation to the foetus. Only bed rest cannot increase the fluid levels, suffecient oral hydration is also essential along with rest.
If low levels of amniotic fluids are seen in the last weeks of gestation, labor is induced. Practitioners recommend the best solution based on your body and situation.
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