During pregnancy, the maternal uterus serves as the perfect nourishing and protective environment for developing baby. The amniotic fluid, present inside the amniotic sac or amniotic cavity, protects the developing fetus from any harm in case of a sudden pressure or jolt to the abdomen of pregnant female. Besides serving as the shock absorbing cushion, the amniotic fluid also serve several vital functions in the growing baby. The fluid promotes maturation of digestive and respiratory system of the fetus, helps in the prevention of different infections, as well as maintains normal movement of the baby in your tummy.
However, as the time of labor approaches, a lot of pregnant mommies may experience amniotic fluid leak that may evoke some concerns: ready for labor or other conditions that need medical care?
Am I Leaking Amniotic Fluid?
Whether it is amniotic fluid leak or not is pretty difficult to make judge by women, as there are many other discharges like urine and vaginal fluid during pregnancy, especially in the last 3 months when the pregnant female casually experiences cervical discharge. Fetal movement or increasing weight of the baby often leads to these discharges which are usually misunderstood as the amniotic fluid.
Following are some hallmark signs to help you distinguish which kind of discharges you are suffering:
If the discharge has a characteristic odor, you are leaking urine.
If the discharge is clear, has color from white to light yellowish, then it is probably vaginal fluid.
If the discharge is clear with plugs of thick mucus, white flakes or blood in some cases, you are leaking amniotic fluid. In most cases, pregnant women may experience discharge in copious amounts that can wet panty liners or underwear significantly. The amniotic fluid is without any odor and you can use a sanitary napkin to assess the color and smell of the discharge. It is highly advised to seek medical help to confirm the discharge.
Here is a video that a mom talking about her experience about amniotic fluid leaking.
What Causes Amniotic Fluid Leak?
In clinical scenarios, the most common cause of amniotic fluid leaks is SROM (spontaneous rupture of membrane). This is a physiological condition that is the result of excessive build-up of pressure and tension in the amniotic fluid cavity, which can lead to a leakage of fluids. SROM, as known as water breaking, usually happens towards the end of the pregnancy and marks the beginning of labor, culminating in childbirth.
If a woman is not yet at the term, PROM (premature rupture of membrane) is the condition in which a tear in the amniotic cavity leads to leakage of amniotic fluid. PROM is characterized by an abrupt flow of a large amount of fluid usually at 37th or 38th week of pregnancy. The common causes of PROM are:
Defect in development of uterus
Defect in development of amniotic cavity
Immediate and emergent medical attention is needed in order to manage amniotic fluid leak before the term.
How to Deal with Amniotic Fluid Leak
Leave It Alone
In case of small tears, it is better to leave it as it is for some period of time as minor tears heal on their own, but if the tear is large, then immediate management by the health care provider is necessary in order to prevent complications during pregnancy.
Consult a Physician
In case of a premature or preterm rupture of membranes, physicians can conduct several tests to confirm it is amniotic fluid leak or not. For this purpose, there are many over the counter testing kits are available. After it is confirmed the mother is leaking amniotic fluid, medical management is needed.
In case of spontaneous rupture of membrane at the term, healthcare providers perform emergent interventions to induce labor within 48 hours in order to optimize the chances of a healthy child.
When You Are Leaking an Excessive Amount of Amniotic Fluid
Hydramnios is a condition in which a higher than normal amount of amniotic fluid is present in the amniotic cavity that leads to excessive stretching of the uterine cavity, causing amniotic fluid leaks and early onset of labor. In addition, this excess amount is also responsible for generating an extra pressure over the female abdomen to suppress the internal organs. The attachment of placenta and umbilical cord are also affected in Hydramnios, which will increase the danger of the fetus.
If the mother is suffering from this condition, certain measures are needed to protect the fetus from complications, such as:
Regular follow-ups to assess the level of amniotic fluid.
Use of drugs to decrease the urine production in fetus in order to decrease the build-up of pressure in the amniotic cavity.
The process of amnio-reduction to remove the excess amount of amniotic fluid.
In serious conditions, the delivery of the baby can also be scheduled early to minimize the risk of permanent disabilities in the baby due to amniotic fluid imbalance.