What is amniotic fluid?
The Amniotic fluid is the fluid that surrounds your baby during pregnancy. It’s very important for your baby’s development. It is a clear, yellow fluid that is found within the first 12 days following conception within the amniotic sac. It is the protective liquid contained by the amniotic sac of a gravid amniote. This fluid serves as a cushion for the growing fetus but also serves to facilitate the exchange of nutrients, water, and biochemical products between mother and fetus. It also helps keep the umbilical cord floating freely so that it doesn’t get squished between the baby and the side of your uterus.
- At first, it consists of water from the mother’s body, but gradually, the larger proportion is made up of the baby’s urine.
- It also contains vital components, such as nutrients, hormones, and infection-fighting antibodies and it helps protect the baby from bumps and injury.
- If the levels of amniotic fluid levels are too low or too high, this can pose a problem.
- When it is green or brown, this indicates that the baby has passed meconium before birth. Meconium is the name of the first bowel movement. Meconium in the fluid can be problematic. It can cause a breathing problem called meconium aspiration syndrome that occurs when the meconium enters the lungs. In some cases, babies will require treatment after they are born.
Amniotic fluid is responsible for:
- Protecting the fetus: The fluid cushions the baby from outside pressures, acting as a protective function against external trauma or shock.
- Temperature control: It helps maintain fetal temperature stable.
- Protection and defense against infection. The amniotic fluid contains antibodies.
- Lung and digestive system development: It contributes to lung maturation by breathing and swallowing it, the baby practices using the muscles of these systems as they grow.
- Muscle and bone development: It allows fetal musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, and lung development.
- Lubrication it prevents parts of the body such as the fingers and toes from growing together; webbing can occur if amniotic fluid levels are low.
- Umbilical cord support: Fluid in the uterus prevents the umbilical cord from being compressed. This cord transports food and oxygen from the placenta to the growing fetus.
How much amniotic fluid should there be?
Normally, the level of fluid is at its highest around 36 of pregnancy, measuring around 1 quart. This level decreases as birth nears. After that, the amount usually begins to decrease. Sometimes you can have too little or too much amniotic fluid. Having too little fluid is called oligohydramnios. Having too much fluid is called polyhydramnios. Either one can cause problems for a pregnant woman and her baby. Even with these conditions, though, most babies are born healthy.
Oligohydramnios. Amniotic fluid deficiency. This condition is associated with complications, such as:
- Early labor induction.
- Low birthweight.
- Fetal bradycardia during delivery.
- It can even cause fetal death.
Polyhydramnios. An excess of amniotic fluid. This condition is associated with complications, especially maternal, such as:
- Gestational diabetes.
- Hypertension during pregnancy.
Sometimes, fluid leaks before the waters break. When the waters break, the amniotic sac tears. It is contained within the sac then begins to leak out via the cervix and vagina. Anyone who is concerned about leaking or levels of amniotic fluid during pregnancy should discuss this with their healthcare provider.
Therefore, Amniotic fluid has a very important role in the fetus’s development and well-being during pregnancy. Any alteration can cause major damage. In addition, its prenatal study and analysis can detect congenital defects, such as chromosome disorders. This is performed through amniocentesis. However, this technique is also associated with major risks that the medical professional must evaluate before performing it on a patient.
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