Amniotic fluid is the warm, fluid cushion that protects and supports your baby as they grow in the womb. This important fluid contains:
• immune system cells
• your baby’s urine
At its highest level, the amniotic fluid in your belly is around 1 quart. After 36 weeks of pregnancy, your fluid levels start to decrease as your body prepares for your baby’s delivery.
When your doctor performs ultrasounds prior to delivery, they’ll estimate the amount of amniotic fluid your baby is surrounded by. It’s possible that the fluid may start to leak at some point.
If too much fluid starts to leak out, this is known as oligohydramnios. The fluid can also gush out due to the rupturing of the amniotic sac. This is known as the rupturing of membranes.
Sometimes it can be tough to tell if the fluid you are leaking is amniotic fluid. Here’s a look at the symptoms.
What’s considered a normal level of amniotic fluid?
The amount of amniotic fluid cushioning your baby tends to increase as your pregnancy progresses, reaching its highest point at about 36 weeks.
Fluid levels throughout your pregnancy could be around:
• 60 milliliters (mL) at 12 weeks gestation
• 175 mL at 16 weeks gestation
• 400 to 1,200 mL between 34 and 38 weeks gestation
Your doctor can measure your amniotic fluid levels using an ultrasound. There are two calculations on ways to measure, known as the amniotic fluid index (AFI) or the maximum vertical pocket (MPV).
Doctors consider your fluid levels to be low if your AFI is less than 5 centimeters (cm) or your MPV is less than 2 cm.
Symptoms of amniotic fluid leakage
Think of your amniotic sac like a water balloon. While it’s possible to break the water balloon, causing a strong gush of fluid (known as your water breaking), it’s also possible that a small hole could develop in the sac. This can result in a slow leak of amniotic fluid.
When you’re pregnant, you may feel like everything leaks: Your bladder becomes fuller faster, and you may leak urine. Your vaginal tissues also may produce extra fluid to help your baby pass more easily. So it can be difficult to determine if fluid is urine, amniotic fluid, or vaginal fluid.
Amniotic fluid may have a few of the following qualities:
• clear, white-flecked, and/or tinged with mucus or blood
• no odor
• often saturates your underwear
Typically, urine will have an odor. Vaginal fluid is usually white or yellow in color.
Another way you can try to determine if the fluid is amniotic fluid is to first empty your bladder. Place a sanitary pad or panty liner in your underwear and examine the fluid that is on the pad after 30 minutes to an hour. If the fluid is yellow in color, it’s likely urine. If it isn’t, the fluid could be amniotic fluid. Another option is to put on a pad or panty liner and concentrate on holding your pelvic floor muscles tight, as if you are trying to stop your urine stream. If you do this and don’t see any fluid on the pad, the fluid you are seeing is probably urine.
Risk factors for amniotic fluid leakage
Leaking amniotic fluid can be dangerous for you and your baby at any point during your pregnancy. While you may naturally leak a small amount of fluid, losing too much can be harmful. Leaking amniotic fluid during the first and/or second trimesters can cause complications, including:
• birth defects
• premature birth
During the third trimester, low levels of amniotic fluid can cause:
• difficulties during labor, such as squeezing the umbilical cord, which can affect a baby’s ability to get oxygen
• increased risk for cesarean delivery
• slowed growth
There are several treatments for low levels of amniotic fluid if yours has leaked too much.
How to detect it?
AMNIOCHECK is the only home test available that can help you understand if a fluid leak during pregnancy is more likely amniotic fluid or urine.
This unique detector strip is contained in a panty liner, so it’s a familiar format and easy to use.
The AMNIOCHECK monitors continuously and reacts to any minute (100µl, microlitre) leak, it is designed to detect minute leakage of amniotic fluid and differentiate it from urine by indicating pH level.
HOW IT WORKS
Attach the panty liner to the underwear; the panty liner has a central polymer-embedded strip that turns blue-green on contact with amniotic fluid.
Wear the panty liner as a normal panty liner till feel wetness (do not exceed 12 hours).
At the first sense of vaginal wetness, remove the panty liner and wait up to 10 minutes and check for a color change on the panty liner.
The detection panty liner is specific to amniotic fluid, and if contaminated with urine it will not give a positive result.
• A non invasive method, easy to use;
• Early diagnosis of PPROM or PROM;
• A reduction of unnecessary speculum examination;
• A reduction of time spent in hospital;
• A reduced risk of infection from speculum examination
(particularly if repeat examinations are required);
• The incidental detection of possible vaginal infection;
• A reduction in staff time and hospital bed use: < costs.
WHERE CAN I BUY IT? >> 5 panty-liners pack on primahometest.com
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK has evaluated this panty liner as “sufficiently accurate to exclude amniotic fluid leak as a cause of wetness in pregnancy, […] the use of the panty liner could generate costs savings and avoid the discomfort of unnecessary speculum examinations, […] its use should be encouraged.”
1) Bornstein J, Geva A, Salt I, Fait V, Schoenfeld A, Shoham HK, Sobel J. Nonintrusive diagnosis of premature ruptured amniotic membranes using a novel polymer. Am J Perinatol. 2006 Aug; 23(6):351-4.
2) Bornstein J, Ohel G, Sorokin Y, Reape KZ, Shnaider O, Kessary-Shoham H, Ophir E. Effectiveness of a novel home-based testing device for the detection of rupture of membranes. Am J Perinatol. 2009 Jan;26(1):45-50.