Polyhydramnios (pol-ee-hy-DRAM-nee-os) is the excessive accumulation of amniotic fluid — the fluid that surrounds the baby in the uterus during pregnancy. Polyhydramnios occurs in about 1 percent of pregnancies.
Most cases of polyhydramnios are mild and result from a gradual buildup of amniotic fluid during the second half of pregnancy. Severe polyhydramnios may cause shortness of breath, preterm labor or other signs and symptoms.
If you're diagnosed with polyhydramnios, your health care provider will carefully monitor your pregnancy to help prevent complications. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition. Mild polyhydramnios may go away on its own. Severe polyhydramnios may require treatment, such as draining the excess amniotic fluid.
Polyhydramnios during pregnancy
In polyhydramnios, excessive amniotic fluid accumulates in the uterus during pregnancy. Mild cases of polyhydramnios may go away on their own. Severe cases may require treatment. ...
Polyhydramnios symptoms are a result of pressure being exerted within the uterus and on nearby organs.
Mild polyhydramnios may cause few — if any — signs or symptoms. Severe polyhydramnios may cause:
Your health care provider may also suspect polyhydramnios if your uterus is enlarged but the baby's heartbeat and body contours are difficult to assess.
Known causes of polyhydramnios include:
Often, however, the cause of polyhydramnios isn't clear.
Polyhydramnios is associated with:
The earlier that polyhydramnios occurs in pregnancy and the greater the amount of excess amniotic fluid, the higher the risk of complications.
Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to start by talking with your family doctor or pregnancy care provider. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For polyhydramnios, some basic questions to ask include:
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment if you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
If your health care provider suspects polyhydramnios, he or she will do a fetal ultrasound. This test uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of your baby on a monitor.
If the initial ultrasound shows evidence of polyhydramnios, your health care provider may do a more detailed ultrasound. He or she will estimate the volume of amniotic fluid by measuring the deepest pocket in four specific parts of your uterus. The sum of these measurements is the amniotic fluid index (AFI). An AFI of 25 centimeters (9.8 inches) or more indicates polyhydramnios. Your health care provider will also use a detailed ultrasound to diagnose or rule out birth defects and other complications.
You may need additional tests as well, including:
If you're diagnosed with polyhydramnios, your health care provider will closely monitor your pregnancy, possibly with weekly ultrasounds to measure your level of amniotic fluid. Your health care provider may also do regular tests to check on your baby's health, including:
Treatments and drugs
Mild cases of polyhydramnios rarely require treatment and may go away on their own. Even cases that cause discomfort can usually be managed without intervention.
In other cases, treatment for an underlying condition — such as diabetes — may help resolve polyhydramnios.
If you experience preterm labor, shortness of breath or abdominal pain, you may need treatment — potentially in the hospital. Treatment may include:
Last Updated: 2011-11-16
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