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Oligohydramnios is too little fluid in the amniotic sac. The amniotic sac is the water bag inside the uterus that cushions and protects your baby. It also allows normal growth and development to occur. Normal amniotic fluid levels vary. The average volume during pregnancy is almost one liter at 36-37 weeks.
Low amniotic fluid can indicate a problem in the mother or the baby. It can also cause problems that vary depending on when in pregnancy oligohydramnios occurs.
Problems in the first half of pregnancy may include:
- Higher risk of miscarriage
- Compression of the baby, leading to birth defects
- Lack of lung development
Problems in the second half of pregnancy may include:
- Reduced growth of baby
- Preterm birth
- Fetal distress in labor, possibly leading to cesarean section
There are many known causes of oligohydramnios. However, sometimes a specific cause cannot be found. Conditions that can cause oligohydramnios include:
Factors that increase your chance of getting oligohydramnios include:
- Pregnancy past the due date
- Health problems in the mother or development problems in the baby
Oligohydramnios usually does not cause women to have any symptoms. If the amniotic sac has a tear, you may notice a gush of fluid from the vagina. The fluid may leak out slowly causing constant wetness. Your doctor may also notice that your abdomen is smaller than expected for your gestational age.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your doctor will do an ultrasound to view the uterus and fetus. Measurements of the fluid levels will be taken. The fetus will also be closely looked at for any signs of problems.
Your doctor may do other tests including blood tests to check for health problems in the mother. Other tests may be done to look for problems with the fetus's health.
Your doctor will monitor you and your baby closely to make sure the condition does not get worse and that the fetus remains healthy. You will probably have more frequent prenatal visits and regular ultrasound tests. It is very important to keep these appointments.
Treatment options include:
- Increased fluid intake, especially water.
- Your doctor may add fluid to the amniotic sac after you are in labor. This will help cushion the umbilical cord during contractions.
The only way to prevent oligohydramnios is to treat its causes if possible. Make sure to get proper care before, during, and after pregnancy. This may include:
- Talking with your doctor about medications, supplements, or herbal treatments you are using before getting pregnant
- Proper diet, adequate rest and fluid intake, taking vitamin supplements, and getting enough exercise
- Regular check-ups throughout pregnancy
- Screening tests
Last reviewed May 2014 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.