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Dealing With Low Amniotic Fluid In Pregnancy
Amniotic fluid is the biggest support system of a baby inside the mother’s womb. It is a fluid that fills the amniotic sac that surrounds the baby while it is still developing in the mother’s uterus. The sac and the fluid act as a safety cushion for the baby, protecting him from jerks, trauma, injuries or any other hazards. This amniotic fluid increases as the pregnancy advances, gradually.
However, in some cases the levels of amniotic fluid may differ, depending on various reasons. One of such conditions is called Oligohydraminos or too little Amniotic Fluid inside the amniotic sac. Oligohydraminos is a common pregnancy related problem and has several risks involved with it.
Role of Amniotic Fluid
As discussed above amniotic fluid is the protecting fluid inside the sac that plays a major role in baby’s overall development inside the uterus. It acts as a cushioned bag for your baby, protecting him from sudden jerks, injuries or trauma, in case you have a fall or an accident.
It also acts as a protective shield and safeguards the baby against any kind of infection that is carried through mother’s blood in the baby’s body. The fluid and the sac together help maintain a constant temperature inside the womb, making it easy for the fetus to move around comfortably.
The amniotic fluid also helps in creating space for the baby’s organs to grow and protects the umbilical cord and the placenta to function properly without getting compressed in the limited space inside the womb. The membranes surrounding the amniotic sac act as a protecting shield for the baby till the birth time. These membranes rupture just before labor, letting out the water or the fluid to break out and helping in baby’s delivery.
Amniotic Fluid Levels
Amniotic fluid formation starts right from the day of conception. Initially it is made up of water in the mother’s body. However after 20th week of pregnancy your growing baby has a major contribution in increasing the levels of amniotic fluid.
After 15 – 20 weeks your baby’s urine is the main content of the amniotic fluid. The normal process is that your baby swallows the amniotic fluid while floating in it and excreting it again by recycling it in the form urine.
Sometimes, though, this system breaks down, resulting in either too much or too little fluid — both of which can present problems. Decreased level of amniotic fluid is a condition called Oligohydraminos. This level is measured by a method called Amniotic Fluid Index (AFI).
This condition can occur any time during the pregnancy but usually more visible in the last trimester. At this stage if the volume is less than 500 ml then Oligohydraminos is confirmed.
Causes of Oligohydraminos
Low levels of Amniotic Fluid can be because of many reasons.
Many times placenta related problems may be the cause behind decreasing levels of amniotic fluid. If placenta is not supplying enough blood, oxygen and nutrition to the baby, the recycling of fluid and fetal urine may get hampered and thus the amniotic fluid may not be formed properly.
Amniotic membrane rupture
Many times due to an injury or a jerk the amniotic membranes may rupture, resulting in the leak out of the fluids. This usually happens when you are almost near the time of labor. If such a condition occurs, the mother is induced artificially to deliver the baby or if the due date is still far then the fetus is closely monitored through ultrasound till the final labor.
Developmental problems with the fetus may also disturb the levels of amniotic fluids in the amniotic sac. Sometimes, the formation of fetal kidney or digestive system is abnormal which may result in plenty of abnormalities causing the urine levels and amniotic fluid levels to decrease. Also, if a person is carrying twins, and the placenta is shared, amniotic fluid levels may get disturbed and lose the balance.
Risks of Low Amniotic Fluid Levels
A drop in the levels of amniotic fluid can be risky for the pregnancy, depending on the gestational age of the fetus. Amniotic fluid is essential for the development of baby’s limbs, digestive and respiratory system, muscles and bones. If the level of this fluid gets affected, the fetal development may be hampered causing intra uterine growth problems or may result in IUGR.
This happens especially when Oligohydraminos is detected early in pregnancy. Very often it results in a pre term labor or miscarriage too. Other complications involved with a low amniotic fluid level are compressed organs, a compressed umbilical cord or a sudden c-section delivery.
Treatment for Oligihydraminos
Although low Amniotic Fluid Levels are common in pregnancy, it is still important to treat it as soon as possible, before it results in fetal immaturity, fetal distress or any other potential damage. Apart from the regular treatments, your doctor will suggest you to take plenty of rest, avoid stress and proper meals.
When this condition is diagnosed, doctors suggest a close fetal monitoring and distress test to count the moves, kicks and other fetal activities. One of such test is Fetal NST (Non Stress Test) which is performed to assess baby’s activities and if any abnormality is noticed then a pre-term delivery is suggested.
During the last few weeks your ultrasound monitoring frequency may increase as you care giver might want to keep a close eye on the baby just before the labor.
Injections and Infusion
Amniotic fluid can be increased by doing amino-infusion thru catheter. It increases the fluid in the sac forming a protective layer around the fetus. Also fluid based injections can be given to help in the formation of more fluid and thus reducing the chances of a C-section delivery.
Many times doctors suggest the mothers to drink plenty of fluids or Oral Rehydration solutions to keep themselves well hydrated and protect the loss of fluids, especially during pregnancy in summers. IV fluids are also a safe solution to increase the fluid levels that helps in a safe pregnancy and a risk free labor.
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