Pregnancy Problems

Polyhydramnios

If you have polyhydramnios or suspect you have it, find out how it affects baby and what you can do to treat it. We've got all you need to know here.

What is polyhydramnios?

Polyhydramnios occurs when there's too much amniotic fluid around baby.

What are the signs of polyhydramnios?

If it’s a mild case, you might have few or no symptoms. If it’s a severe case, you may experience shortness of breath when you’re sitting or lying down, swelling in your lower abdomen and decreased urine production. Other signs include an enlarged uterus and trouble hearing baby’s heartbeat or feeling baby move.

Are there any tests for polyhydramnios?

If your doctor thinks you have polyhydramnios, she’ll do a fetal ultrasound. If the ultrasound shows that you have polyhydramnios, your doctor may perform a detailed ultrasound to measure the amount of amniotic fluid in your uterus. You may also need an amniocentesis, a glucose challenge test, a maternal serum screening and a karyotype. 

How common is polyhydramnios?

It’s pretty rare. It only happens in about 1 percent of pregnancies.

How did I get polyhydramnios?

Some causes of polyhydramnios include a birth defect in baby that affects his gastrointestinal tract or central nervous system,maternal diabetes, a complication in identical twin pregnancies when one twin receives more blood than the other (twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome), fetal anemia and blood incompatibility between mother and baby.

How will polyhydramnios affect my baby?

Polyhydramnios may increase the risk of premature birth, excess fetal growth and stillbirth. It can affect you because it may cause high blood pressure, urinary tract infections, your water breaking early, placental abruption, umbilical cord prolapse (umbilical cord comes before the baby in birth), c-section and heavy bleeding after delivery.

What’s the best way to treat polyhydramnios?

If you have a mild case, it may not require treatment, and it may disappear on its own. Treatment for an underlying condition like diabetes may help treat it. Also, if you experience preterm labor, shortness of breath or abdominal pain, you may need to have the excess fluid drained, or your doctor may prescribe you oral medication.

What can I do to prevent polyhydramnios?

There is no known way to prevent polyhydramnios.

What do other pregnant moms do when they have polyhydramnios?

“I had severe polyhydramnios starting around 24 weeks. I had a premature rupture of membranes at 25 weeks and delivered at 27 weeks. My DS spent 12 weeks in the NICU but is a happy, healthy three-year-old now. I’m pregnant again, and my doctors do not expect me to get polyhydramnios again.”

“I had polyhydramnios with my daughter. They said the most important thing was if my water broke to get to the hospital ASAP, unless I could feel the cord coming out (in which case to call 911 and lie down with my feet above my head). My water broke at the hospital after being induced, but I ended up with a c-section.”

“I found out I have more amniotic fluid than normal, called polyhydramnios. The doctors are going to monitor me more starting at 32 weeks and then proceed from there.”

Are there any other resources for polyhydramnios?

March of Dimes

Plus more from The Bump:

What is amniotic fluid? 

What to Expect During an Amniocentesis 

Why should I get a CVS or amniocentesis? 

By Laura Riley, MD, ob-gyn, Director of Labor and Delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of You & Your Baby: Pregnancy