Increased Amniotic Fluid (Polyhydramnios): What Does It Mean For You?

Written by: Neelu Prajapat.

If your doctor tells you that your amniotic fluid levels are high, it can be a bit of a shock. You may be wondering what this means for you and your baby. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, consequences, and treatment of excess amniotic fluid levels or polyhydramnios.

What is Polyhydramnios?

Polyhydramnios is a condition that occurs when there is too much amniotic fluid in the uterus. Amniotic fluid is a fluid that surrounds the baby in the womb and protects it from injury. The usual amount is 500 to 800 ml at birth.

Polyhydramnios occurs in around 1 to 2 percent of all pregnancies, and it is generally a minor condition. The development of excess amniotic fluid over the second half of pregnancy accounts for most cases of polyhydramnios.

Increased amniotic fluid can be detected during an ultrasound scan. The cause of polyhydramnios is not always clear, but it can result from problems with the baby, such as a congenital disability, or with the mother, such as  gestational diabetes.

What Are The Symptoms Of Polyhydramnios?

The most common symptoms of polyhydramnios are

  • A feeling of fullness in the stomach
  • Excessive urination
  • Swelling in your legs and feet.
  • Severe abdominal discomfort
  • Challenging to palpate fetal parts
  • Fetal heart sounds are not audible
  • An abdominal circumference of more than 100 cm
  • Fetal malposition, such as breech presentation
  • Varicose vein 

If you have these symptoms, it is essential to see your doctor.

What Causes Polyhydramnios?

There are many potential causes of polyhydramnios, including fetal abnormalities,  placental abnormalities, and maternal diseases.

Maternal diabetes is the most common cause of polyhydramnios. Other causes include fetal tumors, twin-twin transfusion syndrome, multiple pregnancies, infections, and fetal hydrops. In some cases, the cause of polyhydramnios cannot be determined.

What Are The Consequences of Polyhydramnios?

Most women with polyhydramnios don’t have any severe issues throughout their pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby. However, there is a slight chance of complications during pregnancy and delivery.

Sometimes, polyhydramnios can cause problems for both the baby and the mother. Polyhydramnios can increase the risk of umbilical cord prolapse, low birth weight, and congenital disabilities for the baby.

For the mother, polyhydramnios can cause swelling in the legs and feet, shortness of breath, and difficulty sleeping. It can also increase the risk of Cesarean section, preterm labor, and premature rupture of membranes.

How Is Polyhydramnios Diagnosed?

Polyhydramnios is diagnosed by measuring the amount of amniotic fluid around the baby. This can be done with an ultrasound. If the amount of amniotic fluid is more significant than usual, polyhydramnios is diagnosed.

The most oversized pocket in four distinct sections of your uterus is measured by the amniotic fluid index (AFI). Polyhydramnios is diagnosed when the AFI value is more than 25 cm.

What Are The Treatment Options For Polyhydramnios?

There is no specific treatment for polyhydramnios. Treatment is aimed at managing any problems that develop due to the condition. If the hydramnios is minor and occurs in the second half of pregnancy, it generally requires no treatment and will go away independently;  however, the mother will be monitored more closely. The excess amniotic fluid is expected to decrease as pregnancy progresses.

In severe polyhydramnios, treatment may be necessary. Treatment options include bed rest, amniocentesis to remove excess amniotic fluid from the uterus, and baby delivery.

Indomethacin medication can be taken by mouth to reduce the amount of amniotic fluid.

In some cases, polyhydramnios may indicate the baby is distressed, and premature delivery or cesarean section may be necessary.

If you are diagnosed with polyhydramnios, your doctor will closely monitor you and your baby. You should discuss the risks and benefits of any treatment options with your doctor.


Polyhydramnios / MayoClinic

Polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid) / United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS UK)

Polyhydramnios / Wikipedia

Polyhydramnios: Causes, Symptoms, Complications and Treatment / Neelu Prajapat