Amniotic fluid is an important part of the womb during pregnancy. This fluid protects and cushions a growing fetus and is important for babies’ development in other ways as well.
Where Does Amniotic Fluid Come From?
Once the amniotic sac is formed about 12 days after conception, it begins to fill with fluid, which is mostly water from the body. At around 20 weeks, the fluid consists mostly of urine from the baby. Amniotic fluid is also made up of hormones, nutrients, and antibodies.
Why is Amniotic Fluid Important?
The fluid that surrounds the baby has many purposes, including:
- Protecting and cushioning the fetus
- Helps develop strong lungs, as the fetus breathes the fluid rather than air
- Helps the digestive system develop as the baby swallows the fluid
- Strengthens muscles and bones as the fetus moves around in the fluid
- Maintains a stable temperature in the womb
- Prevents the umbilical cord from being pinched
How Much Amniotic Fluid is There?
As you might expect, the amount of amniotic fluid grows as the baby develops. This happens continuously until around 36 weeks after conception, where the amount peaks at, usually, a quart.
There are conditions in which people can have too much or too little amniotic fluid, oligohydramnios and polyhydramnios, respectively. Both conditions can cause complications for either the mother or baby, but more often than not they result in healthy births.
What Color is Amniotic Fluid?
Amniotic fluid is normally clear or slightly yellow. If it looks darker greenish or brown, this is an indication that the baby has had a bowel movement in the womb. Because babies normally have their first bowel movement after birth, this can cause complications, such as when breathing becomes difficult due to the amniotic fluid becoming thicker.
Knowing whether there is fetal waste (meconium) in the amniotic fluid is key to having a healthy baby after delivery, as the baby may need immediate treatment to prevent breathing problems after birth. In some cases, babies are born healthy and require no intervention for breathing issues.
Amniotic Fluid Testing During Pregnancy
Sometimes, people who are pregnant need or ask for a test of amniotic fluid for various reasons. This could be because they are at risk for certain birth defects or genetic conditions, or because they are a high-risk pregnancy, or simply because the patient requests the test.
Amniotic fluid testing is called amniocentesis, and it involves extracting a small amount of amniotic fluid with a fine needle carefully inserted into the womb, guided by ultrasound imaging. The fluid is tested for certain compounds that would indicate conditions that could put the baby’s health at risk.
Comprehensive Pregnancy Care in New York City
At Carnegie Imaging, we understand that planning pregnancy or experiencing it can be a stressful, confusing time. That’s why we’re here to educate and care for expecting mothers throughout their pregnancies, addressing any and all needs they may have.
Our maternal fetal medicine specialists are experts in both performing procedures and guiding people through pregnancy with a steady hand. To learn more about our services and how we can help you have a healthy and successful pregnancy, call us or contact us online today.
Carnegie Imaging for Women blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!