Amniotic Fluid Disorders: Polyhydramnios

Nationwide Cerebral Palsy Resource Network

The amniotic fluid is an essential part of an unborn child’s life support system. Not only does it cushion a child, it also aids in the development of muscles, the respiratory system, the limbs and digestive organs.

Normally, while a woman’s amniotic fluid levels may vary, she should have an amount between 800 to 1000 ml. Should your amount of amniotic fluid be too high, the condition is referred to as polyhydramnios. If you have suffered from an undetected amniotic fluid abnormality, you may wish to consider your legal options. Please get in touch with Stern Law, PLLC by calling (800)462-5772 for a free consultation.

An overview of polyhydramnios

As stated, polyhyramnios is an over-accumulation of amniotic fluid during pregnancy. Most cases of polyhydramnios are extremely mild and occur in about 1% of pregnancies.

If you are diagnosed with polyhydramnios, it is important that your healthcare provider monitor your pregnancy in order to prevent any further complications.  Although mild cases of polyhydramnios often go away on their own, more severe forms must be taken seriously and treated immediately.

What are the symptoms of polyhydramnios?

In general, the signs and symptoms of polyhydramnios typically manifest as a result of pressure exerted on the uterus, bladder and other surrounding organs due to excess amniotic fluid levels. Accordingly, the following are the most common indicators that you may have polyhydramnios:

  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing;
  • Swelling on the legs, vulva and other parts of the body;
  • An ultrasound that indicates your amniotic fluid levels to be 24 centimeters or higher;
  • Decreased urine output;
  • Abdominal pain and discomfort;

  • An enlarged uterus accompanied by a fetal heartbeat that is difficult to detect;

What are the causes of polyhydramnios?

According to the Center for Maternal Fetal Medicine, the cause of polyhydramnios is unknown in roughly 65% of cases. The following is a list of some of the known causes of polyhydramnios:

  • Birth defects that affect an unborn child’s central nervous and digestive systems;
  • Maternal gestational or chronic diabetes;
  • Twin-twin transfusion - This occurs when one identical twin receives too much blood while the other twin receives too little;
  • Blood incompatibilities between a mother and her baby, such as Rh incompatibility;

What complications are associated with polyhydramnios?

Should a case of polyhydramnios go undetected or untreated, a number of complications could occur.  They are: 

How is polyhydramnios treated?

For those with a mild form of polyhydramnios, the treatment often involves simply monitoring the pregnancy until the condition goes away on its own. For more severe cases however, a doctor may:

  • Drain your excess amniotic fluid – Specifically, your medical professional may use an amniocentesis to drain the excess fluid levels from your uterus. Sometimes referred to as an amnio-reduction, your doctor may repeat this procedure a number of times. However, your doctor should discuss with you the risks associated with this type of procedure, such as preterm labor, placental abruption and premature membrane rupture.
  • Medication – Your doctor may prescribe a certain type of medication known as indomethacin (not recommended for a pregnancy beyond 31 weeks) in order to reduce your child’s urine production, which helps decrease your amniotic fluid volume.

Most medical professionals are able to address polyhydraminos and other amniotic fluid disorders and take measures necessary to prevent further complications from arising. However, if the personnel monitoring your pregnancy failed to take proper action, please call Stern Law, PLLC at (800)462-5772 for a free consultation.