Diane W. Shannon, MD, MPH
Polyhydramnios is too much fluid in the amniotic sac. The amniotic sac is the “water bag” inside the womb. It protects your baby. Usually, there is about 1 liter of fluid by 36 weeks of pregnancy. Polyhydramnios is an amniotic fluid index (AFI) of greater than 25 cm. About 2% of pregnant women have more than 25 cm and have polyhydramnios. The condition can result in:
About two-thirds of the time, the cause of polyhydramnios is not known. One-third of the time, a cause is found. Some causes are related to the mother and others are related to the baby.
Conditions that can cause polyhydramnios:
The presence of a known cause of polyhydramnios (eg, diabetes in the mother) increases the risk of developing it.
Symptoms in the mother:
If you have mild polyhydramnios, you may not have any symptoms.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You will probably be referred to a doctor who specializes in high risk obstetrics.
Your doctor may need pictures of your uterus and baby. This can be done with an
Your doctor may also need you to have tests of your body fluids. This can be done with:
You will probably have more frequent prenatal visits and regular ultrasound tests. It is important to keep these appointments.
About half the time, polyhydramnios gets better without any treatment. In other cases, treating the cause of the increased amniotic fluid takes care of the problem. For example, diabetes treatment may make the polyhydramnios go away.
Your doctor will suggest a treatment plan based on your due date and the amount of amniotic fluid. If treatment is needed, options include the following:
The only way to prevent polyhydramnios is to treat the cause. Getting regular check-ups while you are pregnant can help find the problem early.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Pregnancy Association
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Ultrasound in pregnancy.
Cunningham G, et al.
Williams Obstetrics. New York City, NY: Appleton & Lange; 1997.
High amniotic fluid levels: polyhydramnios. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at:
http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/highamnioticfluidpolyhydramnios.htm. Accessed January 2007. Accessed December 18, 2012.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Andrea Chisholm
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.