Amniotic fluid present in the amniotic sac provides a cushion to the baby in the womb protecting it from injuries. Polyhydramnios is a medical condition in which excessive accumulation of fluid takes place in the amniotic sac.
Polyhydramnios is not a common condition and occurs in around one percent of pregnancies. The cases are mostly mild and result due to a gradual build-up of amniotic fluid during the second half of a pregnancy. This condition is diagnosed when the amniotic volume reaches two litres or more. Acute polyhydramnios is common if you’re having a multiple pregnancy i.e., a pregnancy with more than one baby.
What are the symptoms of polyhydramnios?
Excessive amniotic fluid is normally diagnosed during prenatal check-ups during the later stage of pregnancy. As it tends to develop gradually, any noticeable symptom may not occur. However, in some cases, pregnant women experience the following symptoms when the amniotic fluid becomes excessive.
- Swollen feet
- Very big or heavy baby bump
As these are some common problems during pregnancy, they don’t necessarily mean that you’re suffering from excessive amniotic fluid.
What are the causes of polyhydramnios?
The exact causes of polyhydramnios are not identified in most cases. Some of the factors may include:
- Maternal diabetes
- A birth defect in the central nervous system or gastrointestinal tract of the baby
- Foetal anaemia — lack of red blood cells in the baby
- Blood incompatibilities between the baby and the mother
- Twin-twin transfusion syndrome — a complication that occurs sometimes in an identical twin pregnancy in which one baby receives too much blood and the other baby too little.
What problems may occur due to polyhydramnios?
The following may occur due to excessive amniotic fluid:
- Preterm labour or premature birth : Polyhydramnios may result in premature delivery of the baby i.e., delivery before the completion of 37 weeks of pregnancy.
- Placental abruption : Partial or complete abruption of the placenta from the wall of the uterus before the baby’s birth may occur as a result of excessive amniotic fluid.
- Premature rupture of membranes : Breakage of the amniotic sac after the completion of 37 weeks but before the onset of labour may take place.
- Change in foetal position : Change in foetal position may occur that results in Caesarean section.
- Birth defects : Birth defects such as cleft palate and Trachea – oesophageal fistulas may occur in the baby. The baby may also grow more than required due to polyhydramnios.
If you’re diagnosed with polyhydramnios, your doctor will carefully monitor your pregnancy. Mild polyhydramnios is not a matter of concern and goes away on its own. However, treatment may be required for severe polyhydramnios which depends on the condition’s severity.