Amniotic fluid is a fundamental substance for pregnancy to develop normally. It is very important to keep up with prenatal checkups to detect any abnormalities.
Amniotic fluid is the substance that surrounds the fetus within the amniotic sac. This is a bag in which the baby is formed and developed until the moment of birth.
Amniotic fluid plays a fundamental role in development. Most importantly, it protects the baby’s body as well as the mother’s organs. It also helps maintain biological balance.
Due to its important role, amniotic fluid can be used in medicine to obtain data about the health and development of the fetus. Among other things, this makes it possible to tackle some diseases early.
What is amniotic fluid?
Amniotic fluid is a clear fluid, almost transparent, although with a yellowish hue. It is normal that you also have some slight spots of blood. It is usually odorless.
As the pregnancy progresses, it can fill up with lumps that are peeling of the baby’s skin. When the expected date of delivery passes, it acquires a milky tone. That is, after 40 weeks. It is made up of water, electrolytes, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, minerals, urea, and fetal cells.
This substance begins to be produced at 12 days of gestation. Then it increases progressively until around week 34. Then it decreases a little and the membranes break when labor begins in the well-known break of the waters.
What is your function?
Amniotic fluid plays a key role during pregnancy. The fetus floats within this substance, which if it did not exist would make development impossible.
Although there are still gaps in the science on this issue, it has been established that the main functions of this substance are as follows:
Facilitates bone growth: this substance allows the fetus to move freely, without the membranes of the amniotic sac adhering to its body. So it can grow without difficulties.
It favors muscle development: it allows the fetus to be located in different positions. This contributes to the development of muscles.
Protects the fetus: the amniotic fluid serves as a buffer in case of external shocks or sudden movements. Likewise, it reduces the impact of uterine contractions.
Protects the mother: the fluid also serves as a buffer for the mother against the movements of the fetus. Likewise, it prevents damage to nearby organs and prevents compression of the umbilical cord.
Creates a conducive environment: maintains the proper temperature inside the uterus. It also provides a sterile environment, that is, free of germs.
It allows the exchange of biochemical substances and regulates the pH.
It favors the development of the lungs: from the second trimester, the fetus inhales and swallows amniotic fluid. This helps your lungs develop, as well as your gastrointestinal system.
Accommodation to the birth canal: This fluid helps the fetus to settle into the birth canal. Then, lubricate the area to facilitate the birth.
Main problems associated with amniotic fluid
The main problems associated with amniotic fluid have to do with its volume. An adequate amount is required for the fetus to develop normally. From that point of view, we will analyze 3 anomalous situations.
1. Insufficient amniotic fluid
This condition is also known as oligohydramnios and increases the risk of accidents with the umbilical cord. The lack of fluid means that the fetus has less room to move unhindered.
If this situation continues for some time, it is also possible that there is an arrest in lung development, since the fetus inhales and exhales this substance. Likewise, premature labor is likely.
The problem can be caused by dehydration of the mother, alterations with the placenta and premature rupture of membranes. If the case is severe, it is likely that the doctor decides to bring the delivery earlier to avoid greater risks.
2. Excess amniotic fluid
Also known as polyhydramnios. The greatest risk of this is premature labor, which requires careful medical monitoring. It is treated with medication or by eliminating the excess. If it occurs late in pregnancy, there may be no need for an intensive approach.
Excess amniotic fluid is caused by gestational diabetes, often, or by abnormalities in the fetus. It has been established that this condition is more common in multiple pregnancies.
3. Amniotic fluid leaks
They occur when there is loss of amniotic fluid during pregnancy. These can be slow, in small quantity or sudden and abundant. If they appear before week 37 they are called premature rupture of membranes.
This condition could lead to impaired fetal development, infections, or premature birth. In some cases it requires hospitalization and treatment with medications to accelerate the fetal lung maturation. The goal is to delay delivery as long as possible.
If leaks occur after week 37, no approach may be required. The doctor may recommend induction of labor if labor is not started 24 hours after the event.
When to see a doctor?
The most common is that the excess or lack of amniotic fluid does not generate any symptoms in the mother. If there is little fluid, you may just feel that the fetus is moving less than it should.
If there is a lot of fluid, the mother will sometimes feel short of breath or experience painful contractions before the expected date. Fluid leaks, if detected, are a reason for immediate medical consultation.
Taking into account the importance of the amniotic fluid for the normal development of the baby, the most appropriate thing is to comply with the control consultations rigorously. It is key to inform the doctor of any signs that are experienced.
Mothers with diabetes or multiple pregnancies must be even more strict in complying with visits. It is very important to maintain adequate hydration during pregnancy and to practice all the complementary methods that are prescribed.