Hydramnios: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Diagnosis

What is Hydramnios?

Hydramnios is a condition in which a female has an excess of amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is produced in the lungs and the kidney of the growing fetus and is passed out as urine. Normally, there is an increase in this fluid as the pregnancy grows. Research shows that at around 12 weeks of pregnancy there is about 35 milliliters of amniotic fluid and 800 milliliters at the end of it.(1)

In hydramnios, the fluid level goes up to 2000 milliliters and even more. Research shows that about 0.2 to 1.6 percent of pregnant women have hydramnios.(2)

What Causes Hydramnios?

Females carrying twins or more are more likely to have hydramnios. According to a study, 40 percent of cases of hydramnios have no exact cause to pinpoint its occurrence.(1)

In severe cases of hydramnios, the cause could be the following factors:

  • Diabetes of the pregnant female
  • A problem with the placenta
  • The development of unexpected conditions of the baby.

Symptoms of Hydramnios

Hydramnios would be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe depending on the amount of the amniotic fluid build-up. All the cases of mild hydramnios may not show any symptoms. In moderate hydramnios, the extra fluid might make it difficult to feel the baby moving. The female might also feel uncomfortable and breathless as the extra fluid may push against the lungs and other parts. Severe hydramnios may lead to contractions, breathing difficulty, preterm labor, postpartum bleeding, loss of a large amount of amniotic fluid, umbilical cord prolapse through the open cervix, and urinary tract infections. Also, in severe hydramnios, the baby may be larger than average or might be in a breech position.

Diagnosis of Hydramnios

Hydramnios can be diagnosed in the following ways.

Fundal height can be measured by measuring the distance of pubic bone to the top of the uterus. A doctor can determine how a female and her baby are faring by feeling the uterus and the baby through the belly.

Ultrasound can be done to measure the amniotic fluid in the uterus. It can be done by dividing the uterus into four quadrants and vertically measuring the amniotic fluid in the deepest quadrant.

Treatment of Hydramnios

What treatment is to be carried depends on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, the doctor would wait and watch.

Severe cases might need a female to be hospitalized. A few testing might be performed such as:

  • Monitoring the heart rate of the baby and female’s contractions
  • Blood test to check for infection or diabetes

Medications might be given to prevent preterm labor, anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the amount of amniotic fluid, and medications to reduce the amount of fluid and urine produced by the baby.

Physical removal of excess amniotic fluid is also sometimes recommended by the doctor. However, this procedure may lead to complications.(2)

If hydramnios is not much severe, it may be just like carrying a little extra load, while in severe cases testing is recommended to avoid any complications to the mother and to the growing fetus.