Low Amniotic Fluid

low amniotic fluid pregnancy


May 2017

Low Amniotic Fluid

Amniotic fluid plays an important role during pregnancy; It supports baby’s growth and development. The levels of fluid could vary from low to high. This time, we will be focusing on low amniotic fluid, its meaning and possible outcomes.


What is amniotic fluid?

After conception, amniotic sac starts to form around the baby. Soon, the sac fills with the amniotic fluid. Before the second trimester of pregnancy, amniotic fluid is just a water that passes from mother’s circulatory system. Gradually with growth, baby starts to swallow amniotic fluid and excrete it as urine. Following this cycle, amniotic fluid finally becomes fetal urine and the levels of it depend a lot upon a baby.

Amniotic fluid is responsible for :


  • Protecting baby from infections
  • Protecting baby from trauma
  • Supporting the development of muscles and limbs
  • Supporting development of lungs
  • Keeping baby’s oxygen supply sufficient


In certain situations and on certain stages of pregnancy, low amniotic fluid levels could represent a problem. The condition is also referred to as oligohydramnios when the amniotic fluid level is too low.


Low amniotic fluid – Oligohydramnios

If mother is leaking a fluid, experiences pregnancy complications, weights too small or doesn’t feel baby’s activity, doctors may become suspicious of oligohydramnios.

Amniotic fluid index is the way to measure fluid levels. Through ultrasound, sonographer will add up the measures from different sections of uterus and calculate the amniotic fluid index. Result should not be lower than 5 centimeters.


  • Fetal problems – as already mentioned baby has an important role in maintaining the normal level of amniotic fluid. Baby, having problems with kidneys or urinary tract will not be able to produce enough urine, eventually leading to low amniotic fluid levels.
  • Being past a due date (Post date pregnancy)
  • Maternal problems, pregnancy complications – for example: preeclampsia, diabetes..
  • Placenta not providing enough nutrients, oxygen or blood
  • Leaky membranes – a small tear that allows the fluid to leak.


Usually, the level of amniotic fluid is the highest before the last trimester of pregnancy. As the due date approaches, the fluid will gradually decrease. Low amniotic fluid and oligohydramnios are most common during the last trimester of pregnancy or when mother is past her due date.

Because the amniotic fluid has a huge contribution in developing baby’s limbs and muscles, having  low amniotic fluid levels in the first half of the gestation, could lead to more serious complications.  They include damage to baby’s organs and unfortunately can also result in miscarriage or stillbirth.

If low amniotic fluid levels  or oligohydramnios is present during the second half of the gestation, complications may include preterm labour, baby being too small, labour complications (and the need of c -section).

Baby’s health and amniotic fluid levels will be regularly controlled after the diagnose through ultrasounds and non-stress tests. When being close to the due date, delivery and induced labour  is what the most of the doctors will recommend.  Amnioinfusion is the procedure that  raises the level of fluid with the help of catheter. The process helps to lower the chances of complicated labour and c-section.

As soon as pregnant women notice the leakage, they should immediately contact their healthcare providers. On the other hand, it is also crucial to attend prenatal checkups regularly and in case of surrogacy pregnancy, frequently ensure that the gestation is progressing as supposed.


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