You hear a lot about amniotic fluid indicating labor, or breaking while in labor, but you don’t hear much about amniotic fluid during pregnancy, so let me tell you all about amniotic fluid during pregnancy. Amniotic fluid is a slightly yellow, clear fluid that fills the amniotic sac within the first 12 days following conception, starting out mostly as water. Your baby floats in the amniotic fluid throughout your pregnancy. The amount of amniotic fluid varies during your pregnancy and typically reaches it max at 34 weeks. While amniotic fluid is mostly water it contains important nutrients, hormones, and antibodies. Your baby swallows or inhales this fluid and starting around 16 weeks, when kidney function begins, your baby begins to urinate it back into the amniotic fluid slowly starting to shift the content of amniotic fluid from mostly water to mostly urine. This wonderful fluid allows your baby to be mobile in the womb which allows for proper growth, it helps develop the lungs, and helps protect your baby from injury if you were to fall. Dehydration can cause your amniotic fluid level to be low, drinking more water can increase it.
Polyhydramnios is when you have too much amniotic fluid, which can occur with twins or triplets or gestational diabetes. Oligohydramnios is when you don’t have enough amniotic fluid, which can occur later in pregnancy if your membranes rupture or begin to leak or if you are having placental dysfunction. If your provider is concerned about your baby, doing an amniocentesis can provide answers, this is when a long thin needle is inserted into your womb through your belly and a small amount of fluid is removed from the sac. Before consenting to an amniocentesis make sure you research the benefits and risks and ask your OBGYN any questions you may have.
If you experience a constant slow leak or a large gush of clear fluid this may indicate your water broke. Make sure you observe the amount, color, and odor of the fluid; it should be clear and odorless. If there is an odor or it is green or brown-yellow in color you should go to the hospital immediately as this could indicate that your baby passed a bowel movement in the womb and can cause serious complications including meconium aspiration syndrome in your baby.
If you have any questions about amniotic fluid feel free to leave a comment. Next Monday I will be posting on the letter B... B is for Braxton Hicks.