During pregnancy, amniotic fluid surrounds the baby. It provides a cushion, and contains water, carbohydrates, fats and proteins, which are critical for the developing baby. One of the earliest signs of labor is often the breaking of the amniotic sac (“rupture of membranes”) and the rush of amniotic fluid.
Oligohydramnios is a term for low amniotic fluid. Too little fluid is concerning for many reasons. The baby is not as well protected against physical trauma, and the umbilical cord is more likely to be compressed. Low fluid is also associated with other medical problems, including:
- Clubbing of the hands and feet
- Underdeveloped lungs
- Preterm birth
- Limb contractures
- Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)
What Should Doctors do to Treat Oligohydramnios?
Oligohydramnios is usually detected by ultrasound. The amniotic fluid is measured using an amniotic fluid index (AFI). According to most measurements, less than 6 centimeters is evidence of oligohydramnios.
Doctors may recommend that the mother drink more if the low amniotic fluid levels is caused by dehydration. In the short term, they may recommend an amnioinfustion—a procedure to inject saline solution into the amniotic sac.
When oligohydramnios is present, doctors must take care to monitor the baby more frequently. Non-stress tests are used to verify the health of the baby—these tests may take place once a week, or even more frequently. Doctors can evaluate the baby’s health by watching its heart rate in relation to the mother’s contractions. Being watchful at this stage will allow doctors to react quickly, often by cesarean section, if the baby is in trouble.
If you have questions about your medical treatment during pregnancy or labor and delivery, contact our birth injury malpractice lawyers at (440) 252-4399 or online for a free consultation. We can evaluate you medical records, and help you to understand what happened, and whether it was preventable.