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Polyhydramnios is the excess proliferation of amniotic fluid during the second phase of a pregnancy which has large effects on the uterus of a woman with pregnancy. This excessive accumulation encompasses the unborn baby in the uterus resulting in an expansion than usual. Polyhydramnios is a rare and mild condition as it has a statistical […] Read More

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Polyhydramnios is the excess proliferation of amniotic fluid during the second phase of a pregnancy which has large effects on the uterus of a woman with pregnancy. This excessive accumulation encompasses the unborn baby in the uterus resulting in an expansion than usual. Polyhydramnios is a rare and mild condition as it has a statistical occurrence of 1 to 2% in pregnant women. A patient with severe polyhydramnios tends to experience premature labor, or even shortness of breath and other detrimental complications as the amniotic fluid is supposed to play an important role in the growth of the unborn child. The quantity of the amniotic fluid present is determined by the amniotic fluid index (AFI) as the polyhydramnios is present when the AFI is larger than 24cm. The amniotic fluid is supposedly consumed by the unborn child in the uterus and excreted out balancing the quantity of fluid present in the uterus. The second phase of the pregnancy ranges between 15 to 16 weeks.  Generally, patients diagnosed with polyhydramnios require close observation, therefore, a regular check-up is mandatory for the safety of the unborn baby in the uterus.  The condition can be mild or intense, though, in cases where the condition is mild, polyhydramnios tends to vanish on its while for intense cases, the patient needs optimum medical care and attention. Polyhydramnios and Oligohydramnios The polyhydramnios is the excessive proliferation of the amniotic fluid in the uterus while the oligohydramnios is the lack of adequate amniotic fluid in the uterus of the pregnant woman. TYPES OF POLYHYDRAMNIOS There are two types of polyhydramnios which are briefly explained below:
  • Chronic Polyhydramnios:
This type of polyhydramnios is a condition where the increment of the amniotic fluid present in the uterus encapsulating the unborn baby is not rapid. Therefore, excess proliferation is a gradual process before full accumulation.
  • Acute Polyhydramnios:
The acute polyhydramnios is a rapid process as the amniotic fluid in the uterus accumulates rapidly and increases the size of the uterus with the unborn child present. POLYHYDRAMNIOS COMPLICATIONS Complications acquainted with the polyhydramnios are mildly fatal. The complications are dependent on the severity and stage of the pregnancy. This complication is listed below:
  1. Possible caesarian section to deliver the baby.
  2. Premature birth.
  3. Stillbirth.
  4. Rupture of the membranes prematurely i.e water breaking.
  5. Abruption of the placenta from the walls of the uterus just before delivery.
  6. Excess bleeding.
  7. Prolapse of the umbilical cord.
POLYHYDRAMNIOS DIAGNOSIS Patients diagnosed with polyhydramnios are required to consult a medical professional whereby series of tests will be conducted. A procedure known as the fetal ultrasound will be performed to observe the images of the baby on the screen. This ultrasound utilizes a sound wave medium under a very high frequency to monitor the uterus. During the fetal ultrasound, if polyhydramnios is diagnosed, the medical practitioner performs an intensive ultrasound by establishing the volume of the amniotic fluid present in the uterus by taking measurements of the size and depth of the pocket of fluid surrounding the unborn baby. If the amniotic fluid volume has a value of 8cm or more, it can be deduced that there is a presence of polyhydramnios. Alternatively, the amniotic fluid volume can be measured in four different parts of the uterus and the summation of this measurement produces the amniotic fluid index. Generally, an amniotic fluid index of about 24cm or more indicates the presence of polyhydramnios. Also, an ultrasound will be used to rule out any defects and complications associated with birth. The severity of the condition in the patient determines the need for further testing. These tests are briefly emphasized below:
  • Amniocentesis
Amniocentesis involves the extraction of a sample of the amniotic fluid comprising of the fetal cells and chemicals in the baby for testing. The test performed is the karyotype analysis which screens the chromosomes of the baby for irregularities.
  • Blood Test
Blood is extracted from the pregnant woman to check for possible infections that could result in polyhydramnios. Patients diagnosed with polyhydramnios require medical care and follow-ups. These follow-ups include:
  • Biophysical Profile
This profiling involves the utilization of the ultrasound to obtain more information on the breathing rate of the baby, the volume of the amniotic fluid, and the movement of the baby in the uterus. This profiling cab is combined with the non-stress test explained below.
  • Non-stress Test
This test observes the heartbeat rate of the baby when in motion. In this test, a special device will be placed on the abdomen of the pregnant woman to detect the heart rate. The motion of the baby can be prompted by eating or drinking anything or a buzzer is used to wake or force motion in the baby. POLYHYDRAMNIOS TREATMENT The treatment for polyhydramnios is dependent on the severity of the condition. If the condition is mild, it can go on its own. For cases of underlying conditions like diabetes, treating diabetes or controlling it can aid the recovery of polyhydramnios. If the condition is severe, drainage of the amniotic fluid by using amniocentesis is sufficient for treatment, or medications like indomethacin can reduce the volume of the amniotic fluid, though it is limited to the pregnancy of fewer than 31 weeks. An echocardiogram is used to monitor the baby’s heart due to complications like fetal heart problems. POLYHYDRAMNIOS MORTALITY RATE The mortality rate of polyhydramnios is given to be 14 per every 1000 cases while more fatalities are attributed to complications of the condition.



The symptoms present for polyhydramnios can be easily detected by pressure exerted within the uterus alongside close-by organs. 

As cases of mild polyhydramnios might present little or no symptoms, the extreme cases of polyhydramnios are listed below:

  1. Contractions can be observed around the pelvic region or discomfort in the uterus.
  2. Shortage of breath due to contractions and pressure exerted is imminent.
  3. Displacement of the fetus also presents signs for possible polyhydramnios.
  4. Swelling in the walls of the abdomen and lower extremities of the pelvic region raises suspicions for polyhydramnios.
  5. Irregular growth in the uterus resulting in a suspicious size above 24cm.
  6. Regular constipation and difficulties encountered with the movement of the bowel.
  7. The inability of food to digest.
  8. Reduction in the quantity of urine when excreting.
  9. Increase in the size of the vulva.



The causes of polyhydramnios are not specifically clear but possible causes of the condition are listed below:

  1. History of diabetes from the mother or family.
  2. The absence of red blood cells in the baby can result in the condition.
  3. A defect in the baby affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or nervous system (CNS).
  4. Complication by the presence of a twins transfusion whereby one possesses more blood than the other twin.
  5. Incompatibility of blood between the baby and its mother.
  6. Contacting an infection during the early stages of the pregnancy.


Can you die from Polyhydramnios?

Cases of death as a result of polyhydramnios are rare. Polyhydramnios only presents complications and those possible causes can increase the mortality rate for patients with polyhydramnios.

Is Polyhydramnios considered high risk?

Polyhydramnios can be considered as a high risk depending on the severity of the condition in the patient but it affects the outcome of pregnancies, therefore, it is considered as high risk.

Can you have a healthy baby with Polyhydramnios?

Most pregnant women with polyhydramnios give birth to healthy babies if they are treated properly. Though, few complications like premature birth might occur.

Can a UTI cause Polyhydramnios?

The presence of a urinary tract infection during pregnancy can increase the chances of having polyhydramnios.

Can Polyhydramnios cause placental abruption?

Polyhydramnios can cause an abruption by peeling the placenta from the walls of the uterus.