Updated on 11 May 2023
A pregnant woman's body starts producing amniotic fluid as early as the 12th day of conception. During the first few months of the pregnancy, this fluid primarily consists of water. In the latter half of the pregnancy, the fluid is majorly made up of the baby’s urine. Amniotic fluid is necessary for your baby to breathe, digest food, regulate the temperature, prevent infection, and cushion from any external injury. Low levels of amniotic fluid, also known as oligohydramnios, can lead to complications like preterm labor, birth defects, and even stillbirth. In this article, we will explore how to increase amniotic fluid during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, the baby grows inside an amnion or amniotic sac. This sac is filled with amniotic fluid in which the baby floats while growing inside the womb. Amniotic fluid cushions and nourishes the baby, and it is that fluid that leaks out when the “water breaks”.
The chemical composition of amniotic fluid changes as the pregnancy progresses. In the early months, it contains 98% water and minerals. The remaining 2% comprises antibodies, hormones, and nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, etc. However, after 20 weeks, amniotic fluid mainly consists of the baby’s urine.
Apart from protection and nutrition, amniotic fluid also regulates a steady temperature, prevents the umbilical cord from getting squeezed and helps baby's lungs, digestive system, muscles, and bones grow. The amount of amniotic fluid progressively increases until 36 weeks and then decreases, and abnormal amounts of amniotic fluid may cause the healthcare provider to watch the pregnancy more carefully.
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During your routine prenatal tests and visits, your doctor will check your amniotic fluid levels. Before 24 weeks of pregnancy, doctors use ultrasound to measure the level. This method is called “maximum vertical pocket”.
However, after 24 weeks, the customary method is the Amniotic Fluid Index (AFI). A normal AFI ranges from 5 to 25 cm. An AFI lesser than 5 cm suggests a low level of amniotic fluid. There could be many reasons for the low level of AFI, including:
There are several home remedies to increase your amniotic fluid levels including:
Staying hydrated during pregnancy is crucial to maintain your amniotic fluid levels and ensure a healthy pregnancy. Drinking lots of water increases the amniotic fluid naturally. It is one of the easiest ways to increase amniotic fluid without any ill effects.
Fatigue and exhaustion can contribute to dehydration and can negatively impact amniotic fluid levels, so taking time to rest is important. Additionally, resting can increase blood flow to the placenta, helping increase amniotic fluid.
Eating a healthy diet is extremely important throughout pregnancy. Have food with high water content like cucumber. Incorporate vegetables like lettuce, spinach, radish, broccoli, and cauliflower, and fruits like strawberries, tomatoes, cantaloupe, and grapefruit.
L-arginine is an amino acid found in certain foods and supplements that can help increase amniotic fluid levels. Some of the best sources of L-arginine include meat (red meat, chicken, turkey), fish (salmon, haddock), nuts (almonds, cashews, etc.), and dairy products (milk, cheese, and yogurt).
Drinking coconut water is among the many home remedies to increase the level of amniotic fluid, especially during the third trimester of pregnancy. Studies have shown that coconut water increase amniotic fluid substantially as compared to those taking intravenous fluids with oligohydramnios.
In addition to being bad for the baby’s health, drinking alcohol while pregnant also leads to dehydration. Thus, it reduces the level of amniotic fluid. Also, avoid supplements that increase the urge to urinate.
Try to work out every day. Unless the doctor has recommended complete bedrest, working out or taking a walk regularly is good for you. It increases the blood flow to the placenta and the uterus, keeping the amniotic fluid levels in check.
This is a medical procedure where sterile fluid is injected into the womb to help increase amniotic fluid levels.
In severe cases of low amniotic fluid levels, early delivery may be necessary to prevent complications such as umbilical cord compression and fetal distress.
Pregnancy is a period of great anxiety, especially for first-time mothers. There is so much to take care of—eating a balanced diet, exercising, drinking plenty of water, taking supplements on time, and much more. However, one should guard against a low amniotic fluid level, which can happen anytime during pregnancy. So visit your doctor regularly and inform the doctor if anything feels different. There are a lot of ways of how to increase amniotic fluid to prevent oligohydramnios in pregnant women.
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