One of my best friends, Jac, was due to have her first child on September 27th of this year. That was her official due date and because she had excess amniotic fluid during her pregnancy, her doctor had decided that if the baby didn’t come on its own, they would induce.
Well, those of us who are already parents know that you think you are in control when you're about to go into labor, but all those plans you have will usually end up out the window.
Jac’s condition is known as polyhydramnios, and only happens in about one percent of all pregnancies. At the beginning of a pregnancy, water from your amniotic sac pulls fluids from your own system, and creates a watery cushion for your baby. Your baby passes this fluid through its own system, swallowing it and creating urine from it, which circles back into the amniotic fluid. So, by the time you are 34 weeks into your pregnancy, the fluid is mostly pee!
Now, as gross as that sounds, while it is in your body the fluid is sterile, and provides a cushion for your baby; as well as allowing the baby to practice breathing, swallowing, and provides protection from bacteria. Also, as the baby sheds skin cells (DNA,) these remain in the fluid, which is how doctors are able to determine genetic defects from withdrawing a small amount of fluid, known as amniocentesis.
So during a normal pregnancy, the amount of fluid at its peak level should be about a quart.
But if you have an excess of fluids, you may notice shortness of breath, extreme swelling in lower extremities, and a decrease in urine output.
Because the baby’s body plays such a big part in maintaining this balance of fluid, if there is more or less, this can signal problems with the pregnancy, such as:
- Genetic problem with the baby’s gastrointestinal tract
- Maternal diabetes
- Anemia in the fetus
- Blood incompatibility between mother and child.
Sometimes the cause is unknown. However, it does require monitoring by a doctor to be sure the baby isn’t in any danger due to the fluid levels.
There are complications associated with this condition:
- Premature birth
- Pregnancy induced high blood pressure
- Excess fetal growth
- Placenta pulling away from uterine wall
- Umbilical cord delivering ahead of the baby
- Need for C-section delivery
- Premature rupture of amniotic sac-water breaking early, before due date
Jac is now only 38 weeks along, but her water broke.. over 48 hours ago. The baby isn’t showing any signs of wanting to come out. This is problematic because once the amniotic sac breaks and the amniotic fluid is released, the baby is no longer in a germ free encapsulated environment, and is susceptible to infection. I am literally sitting by the phone as I write this, waiting to hear the news that Jac has delivered a healthy baby.
Fingers crossed for her and for all you moms out there getting ready to deliver!
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