Amniotic Fluid is the fluid that surrounds a baby while it is in the womb. This nourishing fluid supplies the baby with proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and other essential nutrients that help the baby to develop normally. The amniotic fluid is also continually swallowed by the baby as it is breathed into its lungs in order for the lungs to develop normally. Without amniotic fluid a baby could not survive. While the myth of a dry birth is just that, a myth, the amniotic fluid can become low. If it does it could lead to complications during the pregnancy.
Low amniotic fluid is known in the medical field as oligohydramnios, and develops in about 4% of pregnancies that last to term. This percentage rises to about 12% when pregnancies that go beyond the due date are factored in. While oligohydramnios can develop at any time during pregnancy, it is most common in the last trimester. The complications associated with low amniotic fluid differ depending on what stage of pregnancy the mother is in when it develops.
The absence of sufficient amniotic fluid during the early stages of pregnancy could result in the fetus being compressed which in turn compresses the vital developing organs inside the fetus. This could result in significant birth defects that affect the lungs and limbs of the baby. There is also a heightened chance of miscarriage, premature birth and, most tragic, still birth.
During the last half of pregnancy and as stated prior, the most frequent stage of pregnancy for oligohydramnios to develop; it can result in poor fetal growth. If it develops very close to term the results can be complications during labor and at delivery, including the umbilical cord becoming compressed if it enters the birth canal before the baby does (Prolapsed cord). If this happens the baby's blood supply can be cut off during delivery. This is a very serious development during labor and delivery and call for immediate action. Because of this there is also an increased chance the woman will need a cesarean section to deliver the baby quickly.
It should be noted that not all pregnancies with low amniotic fluid levels will face these complications. In spite of the inadequate amount of fluid many woman go to term, and deliver a healthy, happy baby.
Amniotic fluid is a vital component of pregnancy, and 96% of pregnancies maintain a sufficient level of it throughout the course of the pregnancy. But, for the other 4% low amniotic fluid should be monitored closely by health care professionals, who are trained in dealing with the possible resulting complications of oligohydramnios.