Low amniotic fluid can be dangerous in a pregnancy. It is the amniotic fluid that keeps the baby safe and creates an environment for the baby to grow and thrive. If the levels of this fluid dips, there can be developmental issues in the unborn child. Read on for more details on the causes of low amniotic fluid.
The amniotic fluid protects the baby when it stays in the womb of the mother. Considering its role in the life support system of the child during the pre-delivery days, it is of vital importance. It helps in the development of limbs, muscles, digestive system and lungs of the child. In a nutshell, it arranges living conditions for the child during the pregnancy days of the mother. The fluid is produced as soon as the amniotic sac is formed. This happens around twelve days after the conception. In the initial days, it is made up of water, from the body of the mother. Later, foetal urine makes up this fluid for the next 20 weeks.
Amniotic fluid helps the baby to grow and easily move within the womb. The baby starts breathing in the second trimester. During this time, it swallows a certain amount of amniotic fluid. The baby can tumble over with the help of this fluid and the mother feels these movements. In particular cases, the quantity of fluid may turn up to be too low. This is called oligohydramnios. Again, when the fluid is present in excessive quantities, it is known as polyhydramnios.
Oligohydramnios: When is it Caused?
When the mother has little amniotic fluid in the womb for the baby, it is known as oligohydramnios. Different methods have been adopted by the doctors to measure the amount of this fluid. Amniotic fluid index (AFI) is the most common parameter to measure the quantity of this fluid. In case the fluid level is below 5 cm, or the fluid pocket is lower than 2 to 3 cm in depth, or the volume of fluid is less than 500 ml when the mother is 32-36 pregnant, the doctors suspect that a diagnosis of oligohydramnios is needed.
Well, low levels of amniotic fluid can be detected in around 8% of the pregnant women, while oligohydramnios occurs in 4% of women. In case the woman has exceeded her due date by more than 2 weeks, the level of amniotic fluid decreases in the body. At the 42nd week, the level may decrease to half. It causes complications in pregnant women if the delivery gets delayed up to the 41st week.
Read More: Low Amniotic Fluid: Risks and Treatment
Causes of Oligohydramnios
Oligohydramnios can be caused due to a number of reasons. The six most common reasons are:
Breakage of water
In case the water breaks, it does not always gush out. When the amniotic sac suffers a tear, it gradually leaks out. In case the water breaks prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy, antibiotics are prescribed by the doctor. This keeps the mother and baby protected against infection. Besides protection, it helps to delay the delivery, so that the baby gets enough time to develop. It prolongs the process, so that the labour can be induced by the doctors. At times, the labour starts on its own and doctors do not have to induce it in these cases.
Problems in the placenta
When the placenta is unable to provide adequate nutrients and blood to the baby, the mother may have low amniotic fluid. High blood pressure, diabetes, lupus and pre-eclampsia may result in complications in the placenta. In case the pregnancy exceeds 42 weeks, it can cause placental problems.
Certain medicines, prescribed to treat high blood pressure can lead to oligohydramnios. These medicines affect the level of amniotic fluid in the body. Before consuming any medicine during your pregnancy, you should consult with your doctor regarding its safety.
Health issues with the baby
The amniotic fluid is sometimes consumed by the baby. It passes out as urine. In case the baby does not produce sufficient amounts of urine, it may cause oligohydramnios. This also indicates that the baby has certain issues with the kidneys or urinary system.
Complications with identical twins
In case you have identical twins, they share the placenta. This may lower the level of amniotic fluid. One child may get more blood in comparison to the other. This condition is known to twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.
In case the mother has chronic hypoxia, she may have low levels of amniotic fluid. Consult the doctors to seek necessary treatments in these cases.
Although oligohydramnios can occur at any stage of pregnancy, the most likely phase is the third trimester. Most of the time, the doctors advise mothers to get adequate rest and drink a lot of water to overcome the difficulties.