Polyhydramnios, the risks of excess amniotic fluid

Too much amniotic fluid

During pregnancy the amniotic fluid plays a very important role in the well-being and health of the baby. It envelops and protects it and promotes its development from the early stages of pregnancy to childbirth. However the presence of too much amniotic fluid, the so-called polyhydramnios, may be the spy of one fetal malformation or maternal pathology.


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What is amniotic fluid composed of?

It is composed of different elements, mostly water rich in mineral salts, proteins, fetal cells, etc. It does not contain nutrients, but enzymes that perform important functions for the development of the unborn child. Some have antiseptic properties and protect the little one from the risk of infections, while others help his lungs function properly. The amount of amniotic fluid increases up to the 5th month of pregnancy with an average of 800 to 1000ml towards the 31st week of pregnancy. Then the level decreases to the end, reaching 700ml on average.

When the amount of amniotic fluid is too significant we are faced with polyhydramnios, which occurs in 2% of pregnancies and in most cases is not serious. The control of the quantity takes place through the AFI, the index of amniotic fluid. If this exceeds the values ​​between 220 and 250 mm, the liquid is excessive.

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The most frequent symptoms can be a enlarged uterus, the abdominal discomfort, problems digestionswelling in the legs wheezing, hemorrhoids. Even sudden weight gain, breathing problems could be warning signs.

The causes

Polyhydramnios is an imbalance between the production of amniotic fluid and its reabsorption. Gestational diabetes is among the most frequent causes. Even an infection like toxoplasmosis can lead to excessive fluid production. A difficulty in reabsorbing the fluid may be related to a digestive abnormality in the baby, or of the abdominal wall, or of the central system, a fetal heart disease, or a chromosic abnormality.

Read also: Gestational diabetes: mini-curve and glycemic curve

The risks

Among the risks of an excessive presence of amniotic fluid as we read on Magicmaman there is that of a premature birth. In fact, the excess fluid could put pressure on it and lead to a rupture of the membranes and the occurrence of contractions.

How to intervene

First of all, it is necessary to identify the cause of this excess of amniotic fluid. So you need to undergo some tests: a morphological ultrasound to check for any malformation in the child (urinary, renal or digestive), an amniocentesis to rule out a chromosomal abnormality, and a blood test to see if there are infections.


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Depending on the cause, it is necessary to intervene in a different way. If it is gestational diabetes, the expectant mother must be closely monitored. In case of malformations in the babydepending on the severity, surgery is required at the time of birth. In severe cases, doctors might advise a medical termination of pregnancy, who are however free to decide whether to continue or not


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