Amniotic fluid is the fluid surrounding the fetus in the uterus. This fluid lets the fetus move about minus the limitation cause by the walls of the uterus being too tightly surrounding it. This fluid at the same time aids by offering a cushioning in the uterus as well as giving the fetus flexibility.
This fluid starts to fill the amniotic sac at about 2 weeks of fertilization. After another 10 weeks, the fluid has different carbohydrates, electrolytes, proteins, phospholipids, lipids and urea which all offer nourishment to the fetus. During the late stages of pregnancy, the fluid begins to also contain fetal urine. It also has been recently revealed that the amniotic fluid also has non-embryonic stem cells.
Symptoms of Leaking Amniotic Fluid
Often it is difficult for a woman to tell whether or not she may be leaking amniotic fluid. During the last 3 months, the baby puts tremendous pressure on the body so some discharge from the cervix is normal. It could also be leaking urine. There is such amount of pressure on the bladder that often the wrong move may cause a big “whoops” moment. The amniotic fluid will be odorless, and soaks undergarments with a significant amount. It will also continue to leak. The best method to be sure if you are leaking amniotic fluid or not is to see your medical professional. They will be easily able to determine if there is anything to worry about.
In the majority of cases what is believed to be leaking amniotic fluid just really is urine. Because of this often the pregnant woman must determine what the fluid is. It is advised for the woman to use a sanitary napkin in order to be able to observe the liquid color as amniotic fluid is colorless. If the leaking fluid is yellowish-brown, green or any other color, the woman should show it to her doctor as well as go to the hospital immediately. She needs to also write down the color as well as the time when the leaking started so that she is able to tell the physician these details.
In these cases, most medical physicians will normally deliver the baby inside approximately 24 hours in order to elude the hazard of developing an infection.
Leaking Amniotic Fluid Causes
Usually when the pregnancy finishes at term, the membranes of the amniotic sac will rupture and the fluid starts to leak out. This is known as SROM or “spontaneous rupture of membranes”. It is also referred to as the time the woman’s “water breaks”.
But, at times the amniotic sac can have a tear or can rupture and cause the fluid to leak prior to term. If this happens at 37-38 weeks prior to term, it is referred to as PROM or “premature rupture of membrane”.
When either one of these situations happen, the fluid can either just leak out in a continuous trickle such as a discharge or gush out.
If a premature rupture happens, it is needed to define the reason for the leaking fluid. Typically, this leaking is due to a bacterial infection or can be due to a defect in the amniotic sac structure of the cervix or the uterus.
The leakage can also lead to difficulties for the growing fetus, since it can hinder the fetus’ growth and can cause the bacterial infection to migrate to the uterus and subsequently to the growing fetus.
Often if there is a tiny tear in the amniotic sac, it can heal itself over a short period of time and then the leaking may just stop on its own.
But, if the fluid that is leaking is caused by a severe split of the amniotic sac membranes, then labor could start inside of 48 hours. If this occurs, the woman needs to receive management therapy so as to avoid any infection to the fetus.
Currently there are several over the counter products that can test fluid to determine if it is amniotic fluid or urine. It’s always advised that one is available to us in order to ensure the health of the baby.
Leaking Amniotic Fluid Treatment
Oligohydramnios is a situation where there is not enough amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus. This can occur in approximately four percent of pregnancies.
Amniotic fluid is vital in the growth of the organs of the baby, specially the lungs. Not enough fluid for too long a time can cause incomplete or abnormal growth of the lungs which is referred to as “pulmonary hypoplasia”. Poor growth of the fetus is sometimes linked with diminished amounts of fluid. Oligohydramnios can be an impediment at delivery by growing the hazard of compression to the umbilical cord as well as aspiration of thick meconium which is the term used for the fetus first bowel movement.
Treatment for oligohydramnios may include:
- Close monitoring amount of fluid
- Numerous follow-up visits with the doctor
- Amnioinfusion or the infusing of a distinctive fluid into the sac to supplant lost or low amounts of fluid. This procedure is investigational but it may be offered in an endeavor to avert “pulmonary hypoplasia” or at delivery to avoid compression of the umbilical cord
- Early delivery if this situation endangers the fetus
Hydramnios is a situation where there is excessive amniotic fluid surrounding fetus. This happens in approximately three to four percent of pregnancies. It is also known as polyhydramios.
This condition involving amniotic fluid is a concern due to the fact that it might cause the uterus of the mother to over-distend and then leads to early rupture of the membrane of the amniotic sac or preterm labor. This condition is linked in some cases with some birth defects in the baby. If the sac breaks, enormous volumes of fluid leave the uterus and can escalate the hazard of early detachment of the placenta or prolapse of the umbilical cord which is when the cord falls thru the opening of the cervix and can become compressed.
Treatment for hydramnios is determined by the physician and is based on:
- Overall health as well as medical history
- Condition extent
- Tolerance for procedures, therapies or medications
- Prospects for the progression of the condition
- The mothers’ preference or opinion
Treatment can include:
- Close monitoring of the fluid amount
- Numerous follow-up appointments with medical professionals
- Drugs used to lessen urine production by the fetus
- Amnioreduction which is when an amniocentesis – insertion of a needle thru the uterus and in the amniotic sac – is performed to take away some of the fluid.
- If complications can risk the health of the mother or fetus, then early delivery can be needed