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Chelsea at Crunch Gym

Forty Weeks of Fitness!

Chelsea, our pregnancy fitness expert, is a certified personal trainer at Crunch gym in San Francisco, California. She gave birth to her daughter, Madeira Re, in July 2006. Read more






Low Amniotic Fluid (Oligohydramnios)

According to the March of Dimes, approximately 8 percent of women develop oligohydramnios, or low amniotic fluid, at some point during their pregnancy. In women who are still pregnant two weeks past their due date, the rate jumps to 12 percent.

During pregnancy, your body produces an increasing amount of amniotic fluid until about 28 to 32 weeks, at which time you have about one quart. You maintain this level of fluid until 38 to 40 weeks, when your baby is considered full-term and the fluid level normally begins to decrease. Amniotic fluid is essential for proper fetal development and provides your baby with protection and buoyancy. The effect of oligohydramnios on the baby depends on the cause, the stage of pregnancy during which it occurs, and how little fluid there is.

If it occurs in the first half of the pregnancy, oligohydramnios can cause fetal abnormalities of the lungs and limbs, poor fetal growth, and increases the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth and stillbirth. Your baby "breathes" the fluid into its lungs and swallows it, promoting healthy growth of his or her lungs and gastrointestinal tract. Too little fluid for a prolonged period may cause abnormal or incomplete lung development, called pulmonary hypoplasia. The amniotic fluid also promotes normal development of muscle and bone by allowing your baby to move around within the uterus.

Oligohydramnios that occurs late in the third trimester may cause the umbilical cord to become compressed during labor and delivery, which cuts off the baby's oxygen supply. It may also cause your baby to breathe in thick meconium (your baby's first bowel movement) during or shortly after birth. The inhaled meconium can irritate and partially or completely block your baby's airways, making it difficult for her to breathe. You may have a higher risk of developing oligohydramnios if you have certain conditions; however, the majority of pregnant women who develop this condition have no identifiable risk factors. Some of the most common causes of oligohydramnios include:

Leaking or ruptured membranes

A small tear in your amniotic sac can allow some fluid to leak out. This can happen at any point in your pregnancy but it is more common as you approach delivery. You may notice you are leaking fluid, or your practitioner may discover it during an exam. Occasionally, a tear will heal on its own, the leaking will stop, and your fluid will return to normal levels.

Placenta problems

A problem with your placenta, such as a partial abruption, may prevent it from supplying enough blood and nutrients to your baby, which can cause him or her to stop recycling the fluid, and levels to drop.

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