Amniotic fluid is secreted from the amniotic sac. It is a clear, white coloured fluid which starts appearing around the 6th to the 8th week of pregnancy.
Fluid leaking during the third
trimester of pregnancy, especially during weeks 34 to 36 of pregnancy can be a
bit tricky if not diagnosed properly. It could either be a normal expected flow
of amniotic fluid or could be some other sort of leaking that may need urgent
When you do experience a leakage during
pregnancy, it should be consulted and checked with your gynaecologist straight
away. Leakages can be due to different causes and are of different nature. It
is essential to differentiate between the ‘leaking fluid’ and the normal ones
to be sure of any to the alarming signs.
Following could be the possibilities of
fluid leakage in pregnancy:
Amniotic fluid is secreted from the
amniotic sac which lies over the placenta and is collected in between amnionic
and chorionic space. Amniotic fluid consists of a major portion of water around
99 percent. Amniotic fluid is a clear, white coloured fluid which starts
appearing around the 6th to the 8th week of pregnancy.
Amniotic fluid is filtered via the pregnant woman’s blood and is absorbed by
the foetus before entering the foetal circulation.
measure Amniotic Fluid?
Amniotic fluid is assessed by the
quantity present in the amniotic sac. A pregnant woman may feel her tummy
either growing larger than the gestational period (i.e. polyhydramnios) or a
very lower than normal level of amniotic fluid, based on what is the current
trimester of pregnancy (i.e. oligohydramnios).
Your gynaecologist may get the
measurement of your amniotic fluid if it seems necessary to the doctor at the
time. However, if you have any concerns regarding your tummy getting larger or
not growing as normal with the gestational age, the doctor should then
immediately get such measurements.
The amniotic sac is divided into four
quadrants. The amniotic fluid measurement test is performed under ultrasound
guidance and/or by measuring the deepest vertical quadrant for the amniotic
The normal value of the amniotic fluid
index in the deepest quadrant is 5-25 cms. The quantity of amniotic fluid from
8-18 is considered normal..
of Amniotic Fluid
Amniotic fluid plays all the major
functions for the foetus which leads to a safe and a healthy pregnancy till the
due date arrives and baby enters the world.
1. As a shock
Amniotic fluid acts as a cushion for
the foetus. Quantity of amniotic fluid increases as the pregnancy progresses.
It protects the foetus from getting hurt in case if the woman has any injury to
the abdomen or when she is exercising and/or she falls. Amniotic fluid prevents
foetus from harsh striking of woman against the uterine wall during any
activity of expecting mother.
2. Allows easy
movement of the foetus
Amniotic fluid makes movement easier
for the unborn foetus inside the womb. Foetus’s movement helps in the skeleton
and muscle development and its movement doesn’t hurt its joint and muscle when
amniotic fluid is present in adequate quantity.
3. Growth of
Foetus drinks the amniotic fluid which fulfills it's nutritional demand of water. Ingestion of amniotic fluid develops the
alimentary system of foetus and helps in learning drinking and digestion.
baby from drying out
Amniotic fluid works as a moisturiser
for foetus, it prevents foetus from drying out. The less quantity of this fluid
may cause defects in foetus such as club feet. It may be harmful for the baby
if amniotic fluid leaks out, baby may be prone to infections.
temperature of the foetus
Foetus inside the uterus needs to be in
a suitable temperature. Amniotic fluid maintains the body temperature of the
foetus. It keeps foetus safe and provides a comfy environment.
Amniotic Fluid Imbalances
There are two main medical
complications related with the quantity of amniotic fluid Polyhydramnios (too
much amniotic fluid) and oligohydramnios (very less amniotic fluid).They both
can be harmful to the foetus and the mother.
(Amniotic Fluid in Excess Quantity)
The amniotic sac is divided into 4
quadrants, each filled with filled with different quantities of amniotic fluid.
When the deepest quadrant out of the four amniotic sac quadrants, measures to
be more than 25 cm and the quantity of the amniotic fluid is more than 18, this
condition of excess amniotic fluid is known as polyhydramanios.
There are at least 3 major reasons that
lead to the development of excessive quantity of amniotic fluid. These reasons
than normal sized placenta
drinking enough fluid
absorption of fluid by the foetus
Multiple pregnancies and diabetic
mothers are at least 2 reasons a pregnant woman may have a larger than normal
sized placenta. Further, if the foetus is experiencing medical conditions such
as spina bifida or anencephaly (a baby who has no brain development), it may
not be able to drink enough fluid which eventually increases the level of
amniotic fluid of the baby.
A healthy foetus regularly absorbs a
certain amount of amniotic fluid through its body. There are cases where the
foetus is unable to absorb enough amniotic fluid leading to increasing levels
of amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac. This condition is most commonly seen
with identical twins and can result in preterm labour.
symptoms of Polyhydramnios
A pregnant woman may observe a few
signs and symptoms when her level of amniotic fluid is more than normal. These
signs and symptoms include:
Mild polyhydramnios can be treated only
with mild sedation at night. Complete bed rest is advised which prevents
symptoms of polyhydramnios. If distress to the mother keeps increasing,
drainage of fluid is attempted by the doctor, which may relieve the symptoms.
If distress occurs during week 35 or later weeks of gestation, labour may
be induced to prevent baby from further complications.
prevent development of excess amniotic fluid?
Unfortunately, there is not much the
pregnant woman can do to prevent polyhydramnios. The pregnant woman can only
make sure to keep visiting the doctor on a regular basis. The doctor will then
assess and regularly keep a check on the amniotic fluid index.
(Amniotic Fluid in Less Quantity)
Oligohydramnios is a condition where
the quantity of amniotic fluid is lesser than 5. The development of lesser than
normal quantity (8 to 18) of amniotic fluid is caused by renal tract
malformation where urination of foetus is compromised. Due to the lack of
amniotic fluid, the foetus may become dry and stretchy which in turn cause
defects or malformation in unborn foetus. This dryness of the foetus may then
lead to condition such as pulmonary hypoplasia (incompetent lungs), umbilical
cord compression and foetal breathlessness.
There are several cases where woman
with oligohydramnios may experience abortion, restricted foetal growth or risk
of caesarean delivery if oligohydramnios occurs in the early stages of
Prevention and Treatment
Oligohydramnios may be prevented and/or
treated by infusion of saline into the amniotic sac via cervix.
Fluid Leakage vs other Types of leakages
During pregnancy, as women get closer
to the third trimester, they may experience differ sorts of leaking of fluids.
These leaking fluids could be urine, discharges due to vaginal infections
or more commonly the leakage of amniotic fluid (or generally called as water
breaking). They have almost the same presentation but the nature of fluid
differs from each other and so does their treatments.
Amniotic fluid Leakage?
Amniotic fluid is a clear,
odourless, white flecked fluid, sometimes with an addition of mucus or even
blood. Amniotic fluid wets your under pants and somewhat saturates in your
clothing. Amniotic fluid usually leaks slowly or rapidly depending on the cause
of the leakage.
Is it a
Urine has odour, is a clear fluid with
no addition of flecks or mucus .a woman may leak urine while sneezing, coughing
or laughing. It happens due to pressure over the bladder of the enlarged uterus
as pregnancy progresses. It may be excluded if you ask the woman to tighten her
pelvic floor muscles as if stopping the urine to pass and check if she leaks
.If she leaks after trying to tighten her muscles, then it is most probably
amniotic fluid not urine.
Is it a
Leakage caused by a Vaginal Infection?
Vaginal infections often lead to
leakage in pregnant woman. These infections may be due to bacterial overgrowth,
a fungal infection or even a parasitic infection. However, the characteristics
of leakages due to vaginal infections are a bit different from amniotic fluid
leakages. As mentioned above, amniotic fluid leakages are clear and odourless.
On the other hand, vaginal infections, maybe greyish in colour and fishy
smelling and can therefore be differentiated from amniotic fluid leakages.
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