Amniotic fluid provides a multitude of benefits for your growing baby. At the beginning of your pregnancy the fluid consists mostly of water and a small amount of salt and cells from your baby. After about the fourth month of pregnancy, when your baby’s kidneys start working, the amniotic fluid is mostly urine. Yes, urine! Your baby recycles the fluid by swallowing it, filtering it through the kidneys, excreting it by urinating, and then swallowing it again.
Most women carry the most fluid at around 34-36 weeks. At this point of pregnancy you may carry around an entire quart of amniotic fluid. That’s a lot of pee! By the time the baby is born, it will consume up to 15 ounces of the fluid a day. This may seem strange at first but we must be very appreciative of this amazing fluid. In the article Low Amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios), the following are listed as the important roles of amniotic fluid:
- It acts as a cushion, which protects your baby from trauma.
- It protects the umbilical cord from becoming compressed.
- It regulates temperature within the womb.
- It protects against infections inside the womb.
- It allows your baby to easily move around and exercise to promote growth and strengthening of their bones before birth.
- It helps the digestive and respiratory systems develop.
It can be problematic if you have too little or too much amniotic fluid. According to the March of Dimes, too little fluid occurs in roughly 4% of pregnancies. This medical condition is called oligohydramnios. This condition is typically only seen in the third trimester—especially if you’re past your due date.
Low fluid in the third trimester can be a result of leaky or ruptured membranes, carrying multiples, or medical conditions such as high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and diabetes. On the contrary too much fluid, also known as polyhydramnio, occurs in about 1%of pregnancies. This can be a result of birth defects, mainly concerning the gastrointestinal and nervous systems that affect swallowing. Other known causes are diabetes and fetal infection. According to the article, High Amniotic Fluid During Your Third Trimester, in about 50-60% of cases of polyh
ydramnio the cause is unknown. It’s important to know that both conditions are treatable if closely monitored.
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