If you could look inside you bump, you will notice your baby happily cocooned in an amniotic sac filled with warm amniotic fluid. It is this fluid that cushions, supports and protects your baby as it grows in the womb.
The amount of amniotic fluid tends to increase as your pregnancy progresses and it reaches its highest amount (around 0.95 L) in about 36 weeks.
Let’s see the average amniotic fluid levels at various stages of your pregnancy:
- 12 weeks gestation – 60 milliliters (mL)
- 16 weeks gestation – 175 mL
- 34 to 38 weeks gestation – 400 – 1,000 mL
This fluid mainly comprises of:
- nutrients (from the mother)
- your baby’s urine (with all the eliminated waste)
- immune system cells
So, how is this level measured?
The level of amniotic fluid is measured using an ultrasound. Two standard measurements are used to calculate. They are:
- Amniotic fluid index (AFI) or
- Maximum vertical pocket (MPV)
Note: If the AFI is found to be less than 5 centimeters (cm) or the MPV is less than 2 cm then it is considered harmful.
Now, after 36 weeks of pregnancy, the fluid levels start to decrease to prepare for the baby’s delivery. This is evident in the ultrasound and prior to delivery, the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby is assessed.
When the mother’s body is ready to deliver the baby, the amniotic fluid slowly starts to trickle down. If too much fluid leaks out, it is known as oligohydramnios. Another scenario, known as”rupturing of membranes” is seen when the amniotic sac ruptures and the amniotic fluid gushes out. This is referred to as “breaking of water”.