In the womb, a baby floats in fluid. That fluid, known as amniotic fluid, is almost constantly swallowed and urinated by the fetus. The fluid aids nutrition and also provides the fetus with some protection from force applied to a pregnant mother's abdomen. As a fetus grows, the volume of amniotic fluid should also increase. At 34 weeks of gestation, the fluid reaches its highest level. When a pregnant mother goes into labor, her membranes will rupture (either spontaneously or with assistance from a doctor). At that time, some of the amniotic fluid drains from the womb. In most cases, all fluid does not drain until after the baby is born.
Oligohydramnios is a condition where there is not enough amniotic fluid in the womb. Adequacy of amniotic fluid is measured on an Amniotic Fluid Index ("AFI"). Low amniotic fluid can be a sign of problems for the mother and baby, including:
- club hands;
- club feet;
- limb contractures; and
- hypoplastic lungs.
At every prenatal visit, your OBGYN should measure your fundal height in order to determine how much amniotic fluid you have inside your uterus. An ultrasound can also be used. Oligohydramios is common, affecting 4-8% of pregnancies. However, it needs to be diagnosed early to prevent harm. If diagnosed early, most cases of oligohydramnios can be treated by bed rest, oral/IV hydration, antibiotics and steroids. In more extreme cases, an amnioinfusion may also be necessary.
Signs of oligohydramnios include:
- leaking fluid;
- little to no fetal movement inside the womb; and
- low AFI (below 5 cm).
As oligohydramnious may be a sign that the placenta is not functioning properly, a finding of low amniotic fluid may mean that you deliver a premature baby, or may be induced to deliver the baby before it is harmed by placental dysfunction or umbilical cord compression during labor. In any event, your OBGYN or midwife should know how much amniotic fluid you have and should anticipate labor complication if your levels are low.
The trial lawyers at Bottar Leone, PLLC, have decades of experience investigating, prosecuting and trying to verdict medical malpractice and birth injury cases. If you or your baby have been injured due to medical malpractice, you, your child and your family may be entitled to compensation for lifelong health care, medical expenses, special education, medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering.
To discuss your case or concerns with an experienced Central New York medical malpractice and birth injury attorney, contact us now
at (315) 422-3466, (800) 336-LAWS, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.