The amniotic fluid in your uterus is vital to your baby’s development and well being. Essentially, this fluid protects your baby and supports muscle, limb, lung, and digestive growth. Your body will start producing amniotic fluid within the first two weeks after conception. Your body will continuously produce the fluid until around week 30. After that, the fluid levels will remain constant because your baby’s development has begun to slow down. In a normal pregnancy, you will have approximately 1000 mL of amniotic fluid by the final trimester. However, some women are faced with a condition called hydramnios, which means they have produced too much.
If you are having twins, your risk of having hydramnios is slightly increased. One in six women who are giving birth to twins will produce too much amniotic fluid. When the condition is severe for any type of pregnancy, it will often end in stillbirth. Luckily, minor cases of the condition can be treated and a normal pregnancy will follow. The key to treating hydramnios is to detect it early, so if you are having twins, make sure your doctor monitors your amniotic fluid levels closely. Hydramnios can be detected with sonograms, fetal assessments in the womb, and other biophysical tests.
Hydramnios can be treated with medication that reduces the level of fluid production in the body, and it is 90% effective in solving the problem. However, this form of treatment cannot be used after week 32 in the pregnancy because of possible complications. The condition can also be treated by training the fluid, and if it’s late enough in your pregnancy, your doctor might simply recommend induced labor. While preterm labor has its risks, they are minimal compared to those associated with hydramnios.
If you are having twins, your risk of producing too much amniotic fluid and coming down with hydramnios is slightly higher than women having a single baby. However, your risk for complications is no greater, so your doctor should be diligent in checking on your amniotic fluid levels. If he or she notices that they are higher than normal, the condition can be easily treated with medication or a draining procedure.
While amniotic fluid is essential to your baby’s development during pregnancy, it can also cause harm if too much is produced. There is nothing you can do to prevent hydramnios, but close monitoring will help catch it in time for treatment.
Source: Jennifer Hernandez et al: Hydramnios in Twin Gestations. Obstetrics and Gynecology Volume 120 Issue 4 pp. 759-765 October 2012