Find out why amniotic fluid is important for your baby and what it happens if your levels are too high or too low.

Sometimes amniotic fluid rises too high if there's a birth defect in your baby, such as a gastrointestinal blockage (pyloric stenosis). This is rare, affecting only 1 in 500 to 1 in 1,000 babies. Other times the baby is normal but is surrounded by more than the expected amount of amniotic fluid. Most women go on to deliver healthy babies even if their amniotic fluid is high, but your provider will discuss all the possibilities with you if the fluid is too high. Many times a chubby baby will have a little more fluid than a smaller baby.

If your amniotic fluid is too low, it could indicate a problem with the placenta or a tear in your amniotic membrane. If your baby doesn't have enough amniotic fluid, he runs the risk of sitting on his umbilical cord or not having enough room to kick around; this may result in premature delivery, poor lung development, and feet that are turned inward. This too is a rare condition. It happens to less than 5 percent of all women. You'll know you're at risk for it if, for example, your belly is smaller than it should be or you are leaking fluid. Your doctor will monitor your condition closely through the rest of your pregnancy and may ask you to drink extra water.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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