What is Oligohydramnios (too little amniotic fluid)?

Oligohydramnios refers to a condition in which there is too little amniotic fluid.  Although it is most common in the last trimester, oligohydramnios can develop at any time in pregnancy.  About 12 percent of women whose pregnancies last two weeks beyond their due date develop oligohydramnios as amniotic fluid levels naturally decline.

Oligohydramnios and Polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid) can be diagnosed via ultrasound.  Doctors measure the depth of amniotic fluid in four sections of the uterus and add them together.  This gives them a number known as AFI or amniotic fluid index.  If the AFI is less than 5 centimeters, the pregnant woman has oligohydramnios.  If the AFI is over 25 cm, she has polyhydramnios.

Risk factors for developing oligohydramnios include high blood pressure, diabetes, lupus and placental problems.  If you have these risk factors, your physician may wish to keep a close eye on your AFI throughout your pregnancy.  Many women who develop this condition have no identifiable risk factors, and it is common for physicians to monitor your amniotic fluid even if you don’t have risk factors.

Treatment for Oligohydramnios may include replacing the amniotic fluid with an artificial substitute once the woman is in labor.  If you are diagnosed with oligohydramnios, it is important that you continue to eat well, drink lots of fluids (water is best), rest more, avoid smoking and report any signs of preterm labor to your health care provider right away.

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