It is important to note that all of these symptoms can just be normal discomforts of pregnancy and mild polyhydramnios may cause few, if any, symptoms.
The ‘water’ that surrounds your baby during pregnancy is called amniotic fluid. It is a protein rich fluid that provides the perfect environment for your little human to float in until they are born. During your antenatal checks and scans one of the many things that is checked is the amount of fluid around your baby.
For most pregnant people these measurements are within the normal range. However, in about 1-2% of pregnancies a condition called Polyhydramnios (pronounced pol-e-hi-DRAM-nee-os) occurs: that there is extra fluid around the baby. But what does this mean for you and for your baby?
In the vast majority of cases, polyhydramnios is diagnosed to be in the ‘mild’ category. This means that while you will be closely monitored, it poses only a slight risk of causing complications. You might not even be aware that anything is amiss until you are told at an appointment. Symptoms can include a larger than dates bump, a bump that feels very heavy, swelling in your feet and legs, constipation, heartburn and breathlessness. It is important to note that all of these symptoms can just be normal discomforts of pregnancy and mild polyhydramnios may cause few, if any, symptoms. If it is in the more severe category the symptoms may be more pronounced.
Polyhydramnios is more common in multiple pregnancies & in women with diabetes. If you are diagnosed to have wither mild or more severe polyhydramnios you will have extra appointments to keep an eye on everything. Polyhydramnios can have several causes; it may be caused by a mother’s medical condition, or it might be something to do with the placenta or very occasionally can mean there might be a problem with your baby.
It’s important to know that none of this is your fault! If a particular cause is suspected, you will have detailed examinations and your care provider will explain if this might mean you need to stay in hospital or make alterations to your birth plan. You will be advised to get plenty or rest. Severe polyhydramnios can lead to your baby arriving a little bit earlier than expected. Sometimes, particularly in mild cases, there is no particular reason and your brilliant body will be able to cope and go on to have a normal birth, and a perfectly healthy baby.
However, it does put you in a slightly higher risk category so if you are considering a home birth, a domino or community service or midwifery led service you will be advised that it will be safer to be transferred to a medical team within the maternity hospital. It also means that you might need to be induced or have a caesarean section.
If you are concerned about any particular symptoms or have any questions you can discuss them with your care provider at any of your appointments. If it’s more urgent, you can always phone and request to speak with a midwife or doctor who can discuss any concerns you might have. When you are told at any stage of a pregnancy that there is something out of the normal range it of course causes concern. Medical information can be overwhelming so it’s important to understand when and why this might happen, and hopefully having this knowledge can alleviate some of the worry.