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What is Amniotic Fluid?

The Amniotic Fluid is not just a scientific phenomenon; it’s your baby’s personal liquid sanctuary.  It is a clear and yellowish like liquid consisting 99% of water and 1% dissolved other matter.   This 1% other matter being skin cells, Vernix Caseosa (white coating around fetus) and Lanugo (fine hair all over fetus) which the baby will shed from time to time.   It is found within the amniotic sac which surrounds your developing fetus and is crucial for the well being of your baby.  It increases as your Pregnancy progresses reaching its peak about 35-37 weeks when it will gradually start to decrease.   When you have your check ups the levels of amniotic fluid will be measured to ensure the levels are enough for your baby’s needs.

Your Amniotic Fluid has 7 major roles:

1) Protection

It is natures way of creating a protective cushion of comfort and security for your baby helping to protect them against any pressures or trauma that may happen from outside.

2) Buoyancy

It acts a bit like your fetus being in a weightless enviromnent like Space where they can twist, kick and turn helping them develop their movement and muscles.

3) Temperature Regulation

Acts like a perfect spa for your baby where the fluid helps to regulate their body temperature providing them with the upmost comfort helping them to grow and develop in the best way.

4) Transport of Nutrients to Your Baby

Essential nutrients, hormones and antibodies to help protect against infection are passed through the fluid to your baby.

5) Helps with Lung Development

Incredibly the fluid helps your baby to practice breathing movements helping them to develop their respiratory system.

6) Prevents Your Baby Sticking to the Amniotic Sac

If there is not enough fluid within the aminotic sac surrounding the fetus it can in fact result to them sticking to the sac which will then restrict their movement.  An important reason for tabs being kept on the amount of fluid throughout your Pregnancy.

7) Allows the test of Amniocentesis

Amniocentesis is when a small amount of Amniotic fluid is taken and can provide valuable results for certain genetic conditions.

What Are Normal Levels of Amniotic Fluid?

When looking at Amniotic Fluid levels your health provider will be checking your Amniotic Fluid Index (AFI).  This means on the scan they will divide up your abdomen into 4 parts and measure the deepest pocket of amniotic fluid in each part.  They will then add these measurements together for an overall result as well as take into account the amount in each pocket.   The following figures are approximate but your Health Provider will have a clear idea from their assessments of your AFI levels and if any action needed.

An AFI between 8 and 20 is termed Normal

An AFI between 5 and 8 is termed Borderline

AFI below 5 is termed Oligohydramnios which means too little amniotic fluid

AFI above 20/25  is termed Polyhydramnios which means too much amniotic fluid

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