Polyhydramnios, or High Amniotic Fluid Levels: What's the risk? | Fit Pregnancy

High Amniotic Fluid During Your Third Trimester

Cause for worry, or not so much? Polyhydramnios (high fluid) is a rare condition, but here's what you need to know about it.


What Are The Risks of Polyhydramnios?

What could happen to Thalia or her baby from having polyhydramnios? The worst-case scenario is there’s an increased risk of stillbirth. In normal populations, 2 out of 1,000 babies are stillborn. With polyhydramnios, it’s 4 out of 1,000, but that still means that 996 of those 1000 are born alive. 

Polyhydramnios increases risks for premature rupture of membranes and/or preterm labor, which could mean that Thalia might deliver her baby earlier than 37 weeks. Thalia’s already darn close to 37 weeks right now, though, and most babies born at 37 weeks do amazingly well.

Thalia does mention that her baby is very active, which generally indicates a healthy baby. Polyhydramnios sometimes means that babies can wiggle their way into a weird birthing position. Instead of assuming the normal late-pregnancy, head down, ready-to-be-born position, polyhydramnios increases risks for breech or transverse positions, which increase chances for C-section. 

During labor itself, there’s an increased risk the umbilical cord could get pinched or pushed out before the baby, which can be very dangerous. Since Thalia will be delivering in a hospital, she’ll be monitored and her healthcare providers will take measures to make sure her baby is safe. 

There’s also increased risk for placental abruption, which means the placenta could separate before the baby is born and increased risk for postpartum hemorrhage. Again, dangerous, but Thalia’s medical team will be on the look out and will take care of her. While these all sound scary, and they’re all possible when mom has polyhydramnios, they’re also very unlikely. 

The Labor Nurse's Take

Does Thalia have reason to be scared? Not at all. At this point, Thalia doesn’t actually have polyhydramnios. Her doctor is just worried she might develop it.

Chances are far better she won’t develop it at all. My thoughts for Thalia: It’s natural to go to fear-land when one hears unsettling possibilities, but it’s a mighty poor place to spend the end of your pregnancy. If you asked me what the chances are that everything will be OK, my answer is this: Really, really, really good. Your baby is close to term, your amniotic fluid is still in normal range, and you’re being taken care of by a trained healthcare team that knows what to do. I think you’re going to be just fine.  

Jeanne Faulkner, R.N., lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and five children. Got a question for Jeanne? E-mail it to jeanne@jeannefaulkner.com.

This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.


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