Lack of Amniotic Fluid during Pregnancy

Amniotic fluid carries out vital functions in babies' development in the womb. That's why it's very important for mothers to see their doctor regularly to make sure they have enough amniotic fluid.
Lack of Amniotic Fluid during Pregnancy

Last update: 21 April, 2018

Amniotic fluid protects your little one and creates the living conditions that the fetus needs in order to develop properly. Any imbalance in this vital element can lead to complications with the pregnancy and can have fatal consequences.

In the following article, we’ll go deeper into what occurs when amniotic fluid is lacking during pregnancy so that you can take the necessary precautions.

What is oligohydramnios or lack of amniotic fluid?

Oligohydramnios refers to a condition during pregnancy in which there’s an insufficient volume or lack of amniotic fluid. 

This condition appears in an estimated 10 percent of pregnancies, specifically in the third trimester of gestation.

In an ultrasound, a professional divides the uterus in 4 fragments in order to calculate the amount of fluid.

A normal amount is between 5 and 25 centimeters. If the baby has less than 5 cm of liquid, then a medical professional will make a diagnosis of oligohydramnios.

It’s very common to observe pregnancies with a lack of amniotic liquid. Generally, this condition increases towards the end of gestation .

What causes lack of amniotic fluid?

The medical community is not completely sure what causes a lack of amniotic fluid during pregnancy. 

In most cases, however, it has to do with arterial hypertension, preeclampsia, diabetes and multiple pregnancies.

However, the following factors may also play a role:

1. Rupture of the membranes

When the membranes of the amniotic sac rupture, the liquid leaks our through the opening. This is especially important and frequent during the last weeks of pregnancy.

However, if you notice that your underwear is wet or you perceive a loss of liquid during gestation, you should contact your doctor immediately

This complication can expose your little one to infection, so it’s best to seek medical assistance right away.

Lack of Amniotic Fluid during Pregnancy

2. Various illnesses

Other causes of a lack of amniotic fluid is the presence of certain illness prior to pregnancy. These include diabetes, arterial hypertension, lupus, and others.

Other complications may exist if the mother takes medication to control some of these preexisting pathologies. 

In any cases, it’s best to let your obstetrician know about any preexisting conditions and any prescription medication you’re taking during pregnancy.

“Lack of amniotic fluid appears in an estimated 10 percent of pregnancies, specifically in the third trimester of gestation”

3. Congenital defects or disorders of the placenta

A fetus inhales and consumes the amniotic fluid and then excretes it. This guarantees the development of the baby’s lungs and gastrointestinal system.

However, some defects, mostly renal, impede this compensation of the liquid through the urine.

Another factor that impedes the fetus’s production of urine is the detachment of the placenta.

This condition reduces the passing of nutrients from the mother to the developing child, which in turn diminishes the amount of urine the baby produces.

The risks related to a lack of amniotic fluid depend on the stage of gestation in which it occurs. 

An adequate amount of liquid prevents umbilical cord compression, a condition which impedes the administering of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus.

If this occurs, the following circumstances may result:

  • Birth defects.
  • Miscarriage.
  • Premature death.
  • Labor complications, given the increased possibility of the child aspirating meconium, or the baby’s first evacuations.
  • Pulmonary hypoplasia or the abnormal development of the baby’s lungs.
  • Reduced growth in utero.

Once a medical specialist has diagnosed oligohydramnios, the expecting mother will have to go through a series of studies.

Basically, the purpose of these studies is to determine if the little one is developing adequately.

If the mother is in the final weeks of her pregnancy, then the doctor will likely induce labor and monitor the baby at all times.

Lack of Amniotic Fluid during Pregnancy

What are the symptoms of oligohydramnios

Now that you know about the implications of a lack of amniotic fluid, it’s important to be on alert for the following signs :

  • Lack of fetal movement.
  • Loss of liquid through the vagina.
  • Reduced uterine growth.

During regular visits, your OB/GYN will determine if there is low fetal growth.

If a lack of amniotic liquid is suspected, then it’s important to maintain bedrest in order to avoid complications.

Doctors also recommend drinking plenty of liquid.

Other treatments can include medications that stimulate the production of liquid. Doctors may also recommend transfusion or the injection of liquid through amniocentesis.

To conclude, a lack of amniotic fluid can be very serious, so it’s important to be attentive to any change.

Visiting your doctor regularly will help ensure that your baby grows healthy and strong .

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Dulay, A. Oligohidrammios. Manual MSD (Versión para profesionales).
  • Vigil, José Luis & Alvarez, Claudia. (2016). Fisiología, funciones y alteraciones del líquido amniótico. 
  • Alteraciones del líquido amniótico: diagnóstico y tratamiento. Protocolos UMF Vall Hebrón.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.