Oligohydramnios

pregnant-bellyWhen a pregnant woman has oligohydramnios, the level of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby is too low. To understand how this can affect your health and the health of your baby, it’s helpful to first understand the¬†function of amniotic fluid in a healthy pregnancy.

The amniotic fluid that surrounds your baby plays an important role in your baby’s growth and development. This clear-colored liquid protects the baby and provides it with fluids. Your baby breathes this fluid into its lungs and swallows it. This helps the lungs and digestive system grow strong. Your amniotic fluid also allows the baby to move around, which helps it to develop its muscles and bones.

The amniotic sac that contains your baby begins to form about 12 days after conception. Amniotic fluid begins to form at that time, too. In the early weeks of pregnancy, amniotic fluid is mainly made up of water supplied by the mother. After about 20 weeks, your baby’s urine makes up most of the fluid. The amount of amniotic fluid increases until about 36 weeks of pregnancy. At that time you have about 1 quart of fluid. After that time, the level begins to decrease.

Oligohydramnios (too little amniotic fluid) occurs in about 4 out of every 100 pregnancies. It is most common in the last trimester of pregnancy, but it can develop at any time in the pregnancy. About 1 out of 8 women whose pregnancies last 2 weeks past the due date develops oligohydramnios. This happens as amniotic fluid levels naturally decline.

Oligohydramnios may affect you, your baby, and your labor and delivery in different ways. The effects depend on the cause (a possible birth defect in the baby affecting urine output, or a health condition with the mother), when the problem occurs, and how little fluid there is.  To read more about possible causes, effects, and treatment options, click on this link.

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