What is polyhydramnios?

By Jason Brady

woman in a hospital gown

Polyhydramnios is the term used when there is too much amniotic fluid around the baby during pregnancy.

What is polyhydramnios?

Polyhydramnios is the term used when there is too much amniotic fluid around the baby during pregnancy. Amniotic fluid refers to the fluid surrounding the baby, however, when there is too much fluid there is an increased chance of complications.

Polyhydramnios is usually detected during a routine ultrasound scan or midwife appointment, often in the latter stages of pregnancy.

What are the causes of polyhydramnios?

There is often no clear cause of polyhydramnios, however, there are some factors that can increase the possibility of polyhydramnios occurring. These include:

  • A twin or multiple pregnancies
  • Diabetes in the mother, including gestational diabetes
  • Infection during pregnancy
  • If the baby has a genetic condition

When the mother presents with one of the above factors, it is important for medical professionals, particularly sonographers to consider that there is an increased risk of polyhydramnios. In instances where this is overlooked and there are adverse effects such as a life-changing injury to the baby, then a polyhydramnios compensation claim may be sought.

  • Specialist birth injury solicitors
  • No win, no fee claims
  • Independently recognised as experts

Polyhydramnios complications

The vast majority of women with polyhydramnios will go on to have a perfectly healthy baby and not experience any associated complications during their pregnancy. However, there is a slight risk of pregnancy and birth complications, including:

  • Giving birth prematurely (before 37 weeks)
  • Your waters breaking early
  • Problems with the position of the umbilical cord (prolapsed umbilical cord)
  • Heavy bleeding after the baby is born
  • The baby has a health condition and requires medical intervention

During the pregnancy, it may be necessary for a number of tests or checks to be carried out to ensure the safety of both mother and baby. This includes a blood test to check for diabetes, a further scan to examine the baby’s stomach, kidneys and bladder and in some instances amniocentesis. This is where some of the amniotic fluid is removed for testing.

Upon diagnosis of polyhydramnios, a medical professional should discuss the above risks and potential complications as well as discuss any further monitoring that may be required throughout the duration of the pregnancy.

Giving birth if you have polyhydramnios

As there is a slightly increased risk of complications arising, if you have been diagnosed with polyhydramnios it is likely that your midwife or medical professional will encourage you to give birth in a hospital setting. This ensures that you have access to medical specialists as well as any equipment that may be required.

Usually, it will also be possible to wait and go into labour naturally, however, a midwife or medical professional may in some instances advise for labour to be started through induction or an elective caesarean if it is thought that either you or the baby are at risk.

It may also be necessary for additional monitoring of the baby, both during labour and immediately after the birth. This is to ensure that the baby does not have any health condition and to provide prompt treatment if required.

Medical professionals should advise on the above as part of your birthing plan.

Looking for advice?

Were you diagnosed with polyhydramnios

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