Polyhydramnios: What You Need to Know

Polyhydramnios: What You Need to Know

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Several complications can occur during pregnancy. Polyhydramnios is a rare condition that occurs in about 1 to 2 percent of pregnancies. Here is what you need to know.

What is Polyhydramnios?         

Polyhydramnios is a medical term used to describe an excess amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus in the womb. During an ultrasound appointment, your doctor can measure your amniotic fluid in two ways: AFI (Amniotic Fluid Index) and measuring the deepest pocket of fluid within the uterus.

This condition is most common around the second trimester, and while most cases of polyhydramnios are mild, there are signs you need to watch out for. Severe symptoms include shortness of breath, swelling in the abdominal wall, and uterine discomfort.

Surprisingly, the cause of polyhydramnios is unknown, but there are a few known reasons such as physical abnormality in the fetus, the carrying of multiple babies, and diabetes from the mother.

The science behind polyhydramnios is relatively simple. The first thing you need to know is that like many things in life, the womb requires balance. The amniotic fluid is produced by the fetus’s kidney and flows into the mother’s womb via the fetus’s urine.

Basic biology teaches us that because the fetus reabsorbs this fluid, it helps in keeping the balance in the amniotic sac. When the fetus fails to do so, complications arise for both mother and child.

What do I need to look out for?

When women suffer from mild polyhydramnios, the symptoms are minimal and harder to identify. More severe polyhydramnios will be easier to detect because it becomes incredibly uncomfortable for the woman and she will know that something is "off." The belly will swell and overstretch beyond its current date (30 weeks will look like 40). You may also experience heartburn, tightness in your abdomen, and shortness of breath just after a few steps.

Some women who have experienced severe polyhydramnios have said that they can feel the water “swirling in the womb” as they walked. 

During an ultrasound, you will know you have polyhydramnios if the doctor has trouble finding the baby’s heartbeat or you are diagnosed with an AFI over 24.

What are the risks of Polyhydramnios?           

With polyhydramnios, both mother and fetus will be affected if not treated immediately. The excess amniotic fluid will cause the mother to experience shortness of breath, which may lead to premature contractions and eventually early labor.

In some cases, the opposite happens, and mothers experience more prolonged and more painful labor.

Regarding the fetus, it may lead to abnormal positioning in the womb which will lead to difficulties during labor. When the fetus is not positioned correctly, it could lead to the umbilical cord wrapping around the baby and eventually leading to the cutoff of oxygenation.

In rare, severe cases, the result is the death of the fetus.

What should I do?

If you or your child was injured as a result of polyhydramnios and believe it was due to medical malpractice or a doctor’s error, you should contact the experienced attorneys at Ross Feller Casey immediately for a free case evaluation. Ross Feller Casey has an unmatched record of obtaining multi-million-dollar recoveries in all types of birth injury lawsuits, including those involving polyhydramnios. Your time to file a polyhydramnios lawsuit is limited, so you need to act now.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.