Whether this is your first or third time around, pregnancy is confusing and there are bound to be some questions.
What is normal?
What is not normal?
Why is my partner’s snoring all of a sudden motive for murder?
Well, I can tell you your hormones are cause for that last one. I can also tell you this…
Leaking Amniotic Fluid: Not normal.
This is one of the big ones, so let’s get to the basics here.
Don’t forget! There are a ton of helpful links to our sources and research on this topic at the bottom of this post!
Table Of Contents
- 1 What is Amniotic Fluid?
- 2 What is the purpose of amniotic fluid?
- 3 What color is amniotic fluid?
- 4 What is meconium in amniotic fluid?
- 6 Let’s Talk Amniotic Fluid Levels…
- 7 What does too much amniotic fluid mean?
- 8 What does too little amniotic fluid mean?
- 9 How to Keep Yourself (and Your Amniotic Fluid) Healthy
- 10 I’m Leaking Amniotic Fluid… I Think.
- 11 How to tell if you’re leaking amniotic fluid…
- 12 I Know I Am Leaking Amniotic Fluid…What Do I Do?
- 13 When Will My Water Break?
- 14 Related Questions
What is Amniotic Fluid?
Simple terms: Amniotic fluid is the fluid surrounding your baby in your womb.
Most important to note, however, is that amniotic fluid is what nourishes, cushions and protects your fetus in the womb. It is between your amniotic sac (amnion) and your baby.
Amniotic fluid makes it safe for your little growing baby to do all kinds of movements inside your womb, which helps baby develop bones and muscles.
Did you know…?
At the beginning of your pregnancy, amniotic fluid is absorbed through the skin and tissue of your growing fetus.
Around halfway through your pregnancy (20 weeks), the skin of your baby begins to change and the fluid is ingested, rather than absorbed through the skin.
Below is a great explanation video:
What is the purpose of amniotic fluid?
This fluid protects your baby, that’s it’s the main job – but the protection is all-encompassing.
Your amniotic fluid can physically protect your baby (as I mentioned above) but it can also protect your unborn baby from infection.
Most importantly, however, is that your amniotic fluid serves as protection for the umbilical cord, preventing it from being crushed – which would cut off the flow of oxygen to the baby.
It also helps maintain constant body temperature in the womb. It kinda works like a heater – and air conditioner – for baby!
What color is amniotic fluid?
Well, normally your amniotic fluid should be clear or tinted yellow.
If your fluid is green or brown, this usually means that your baby has passed its first bowel movement (called meconium) while still inside the womb.
More on that below…
What is meconium in amniotic fluid?
Meconium is what is referring to your baby’s first bowel movement, and this can actually happen before your baby enters the world.
See, usually, babies have their first after birth…but occasionally a baby will “go” a bit too early – this turns the amniotic fluid green or brown.
If a baby passes meconium in the womb, it can get into his lungs, through the amniotic fluid.
This is obviously an issue, as it can cause breathing problems (referred to as meconium aspiration syndrome).
Some babies with meconium in their amniotic fluid are fine, others need treatment right away after birth. Your doctor will know immediately and act accordingly.
Watch this video below for more information on meconium in amniotic fluid…
Let’s Talk Amniotic Fluid Levels…
At each prenatal appointment, your midwife or doctor will measure your bump, checking on the amniotic fluid
If they are concerned, they might order an ultrasound to verify amniotic fluid levels.
Generally speaking, an AFI (amniotic fluid index) of 2 inches or less, or a deep pocket measurement of fewer than 0.8 inches, is considered low amniotic fluid and will require further investigation by your doctor or midwife.
The amount of amniotic fluid increases throughout your pregnancy, until about 32 weeks gestation.
This is when the amniotic fluid will remain consistent until the baby is full term (37 – 42 weeks) when the levels slowly start to decline due.
To put this in simpler terms…
Fluids throughout your pregnancy should look like this:
- 60 ML at 12 weeks gestation
- 175 ML at 16 weeks gestation
- 400 – 1200 ML between 34 – 38 weeks gestation
What does too much amniotic fluid mean?
Having too much amniotic fluid is called polyhydramnios. This is quite rare and occurs in less than 1% of pregnancies.
But it can cause complications such as preterm labor, or a baby to be born stillborn.
If you have polyhydramnios, talk to your doctor or midwife about their concerns and your treatment plan.
What does too little amniotic fluid mean?
Having too little amniotic fluid, on the other hand, is called oligohydramnios.
This is a bit more common, affecting about 4% of women during their pregnancies, usually popping up as an issue of the third trimester.
This can also cause complications, such as when the baby’s umbilical cord depressed because of the lack of amniotic fluid.
This can prevent oxygen from getting to the baby. Both of these are reasons why your OBGYN or doctor monitor your pregnancy through scans and ultrasounds.
How to Keep Yourself (and Your Amniotic Fluid) Healthy
While you’re pregnant, it’s important to eat right and drink lots of fluid. Staying well hydrated can help improve slightly low amniotic fluid levels.
However, if you have really low amounts of amniotic fluid, your doctor or midwife may order intravenous fluids or rehydration therapy at home.
Studies have shown hydration therapy significantly improves the quantity of amniotic fluid in women with oligohydramnios.
Take a look at the photo below to see a bit more about just how much cushion that amniotic fluid gives your little one inside you!
If you have too much, or too little, amniotic fluid – follow your doctor’s or midwife’s orders completely.
Amniotic fluid is very important to the development of your baby.
Taking care of yourself (and baby) now, will lead to a healthier birth for both mom and baby.
If you have concerns about your amniotic fluid levels (or need more clarification on it), please do not hesitate to ask your doctor at your next appointment!
Knowing what amniotic fluid is, how it works and the importance of it can help you realize any potential issues down the road.
I’m Leaking Amniotic Fluid… I Think.
When you’re pregnant, so many different things leak out of you that you might as well just buy throwaway granny panties now. Sorry ladies, but it’s true. I thought my water broke once…
In reality, it was just quite a bit of pee as a result of the 41-week baby that was bouncing on my bladder at 3 am.
On TV, when a woman’s water breaks, it’s obvious.
She feels it, gushes water, and knows immediately her water has broken. It’s not always so clear cut in real life though.
Actually, I do not know a single woman who has had that clear of an experience with her water breaking.
How to tell if you’re leaking amniotic fluid…
When you aren’t gushing, but are leaking slowly, it can be hard to tell where the fluid is coming from.
There are three main sources of leakage in pregnant women:
- Urine usually has the smell of urine or ammonium.
- When you’re leaking urine, it’s usually clear yellowish or darker.
- Unfortunately, leaking from the bladder is more common as you advance in the 2nd & 3rd trimesters – and your baby presses on your bladder continuously.
- Vaginal Discharge
- General vaginal discharge is usually thicker and creamier than amniotic fluid or urine.
- Vaginal discharge can be white or yellow.
- Discharge may, or may not, have an odor. It does not smell like urine, ever.
- Amniotic Fluid
- Amniotic fluid is usually clear and odorless.
- What does amniotic fluid smell like? May have a “sweetish” smell.
- It does not smell like urine.
- May have mucous flecks (whitish) in the fluid.
If you are leaking, and still can’t tell if its urine, amniotic fluid or vaginal discharge…try going to the bathroom. Once your bladder is empty if you continue to leak it’s probably amniotic fluid.
You can wear a pad to check the fluid if you prefer.
Amniotic Fluid Test Strips are a thing!
The same idea as a pregnancy test, there are actually pH level test strips that you can purchase to test your discharge and help determine if it’s amniotic fluid or vaginal discharge.
These test strips determine the alkalinity of your leakage, to determine if its probably amniotic fluid or not.
Home bought test kits are not scientifically tested for in-home use but operate on the same basis as test kits used in hospitals and doctor’s offices.
Something else to note…amniotic fluid is much more alkaline than vaginal discharge.
You may leak fluid instead of it gushing out of you, if your baby is low in your cervix, or if your amniotic sac has a little pinhole without rupturing.
I Know I Am Leaking Amniotic Fluid…What Do I Do?
If you are leaking amniotic fluid slowly, don’t worry.
Your body can replace small amounts of fluid lost due to leakage.
Severe leaking can cause serious complication so talk to your doctor or midwife if you leak a large amount of amniotic fluid.
If you think your water broke (your amniotic sac ruptured), note the time. It’s important to the timing of the birth of your baby.
Don’t put anything in your vagina, as this can introduce an infection to your baby.
This means no more sex until after you are cleared by your doctor.
If you think your water broke, or you aren’t sure, call your doctor or midwife.
They will help determine if you are leaking amniotic fluid or not.
Watch the video below for information on leaking…even if you’re not sure it’s amniotic fluid – here’s what you should do…
When Will My Water Break?
Most women’s water breaks toward the end of the first stage of labor.
For about 10% of women, their amniotic sacs rupture before labor starts.
This is called PROM (pre labor rupture of membrane at term).
PPROM (preterm prelabor rupture of membranes) happens to about 30% of pregnant women, and means their amniotic sac ruptured before the baby is full term at 37 weeks.
If your water breaks when you are full-term, get ready to meet your baby!
For some women its the first sign of impending labor, while others feel contractions prior to their amniotic sac rupturing.
What if I am being induced… will my water still break?
This is a good question, I am sure it’s a common one, too.
Typically, once you are induced, your waters may break on their own. If not, doctors have a special kind of tool they can use to gentle break your water and get you ready to give birth.
Either way, if you are full term (37 weeks +), your baby is on their way…
Get ready to give birth!