Low Amniotic Fluid During Pregnancy : Oligohydramnios

What is Amniotic Fluid?

Amniotic fluid surrounds the developing fetus in the amniotic sac, and performs some important functions. The amniotic fluid:

  • provides protective cushioning
  • protects the baby and uterus from infection
  • serves as a backup of nutrients and fluids for your baby
  • allows your baby to move about and breath
  • helps in the development of the respiratory, digestive and musculoskeletal systems

    What Causes Oligohydramnios During Pregnancy?

    There are several different causes of low amniotic fluid, which include:

  • leaking or ruptured membranes : your membrane may possibly have a small tear in it and your health care provider may discover this during an exam
  • placenta complications : should your placenta stop producing enough nutrients to feed your baby, he may stop recycling fluids which would reduce the amniotic fluid in the sack
  • eating disorders
  • fetal abnormalities : if your baby has kidney problems, he may stop producing enough urine to keep the amniotic fluid levels up in the sack

    Signs and Symptoms of Low Amniotic Fluid

    There are several signs that may lead you to suspect low levels of amniotic fluid. These include:

  • leaking fluid
  • small measurements
  • lack of feeling movement from your baby
  • an amniotic fluid index (AFI) of 5cm or less

    How it Affects the Baby

    One of the main concerns is that your placenta may not be functioning correctly, which could lead to a number of complications. You may have a premature birth, or the amniotic fluid may get so low that your baby will compress the umbilical cord and starve himself of oxygen. Low amniotic fluid may also prevent some of the vital organs and systems we all rely on for fully developing.


    Sometimes, replacing fluid through maternal oral or IV hydration may be used to help correct the condition. Other times, amnioinfusion is used. If low amniotic fluid is seen in a post-term pregnancy, most practitioners will induce labor.

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    my doctor checks my amniotic fluid each time he does the ultrasound to make sure that there is enough. i wish i could get more ultrasounds because i have such peace of mind after each one. i see the heartbeat, i see the baby move, i know the baby's size and how she's growing, i know the fluid is ok, i know the placenta is ok. i get to walk out of the office saying everything is ok. it keeps me on a high for the rest of the week.
    13 years ago