Health A to Z
Polyhydramnios is where there is too much amniotic fluid around the baby during pregnancy. Amniotic fluid is the fluid that surrounds your baby in the womb.
Too much amniotic fluid is normally spotted during a check-up in the later stages of pregnancy.
It isn't usually a sign of anything serious, but you'll probably have some extra check-ups and will be advised to give birth in hospital.
This page covers:
Most women with polyhydramnios won't have any significant problems during their pregnancy and will have a healthy baby.
But there is a slightly increased risk of:
Polyhydramnios tends to develop gradually and there may not be noticeable symptoms.
Some women experience:
But these are common problems for pregnant women and aren't necessarily caused by polyhydramnios. Talk to your midwife if you have these symptoms and you're worried.
In rare cases, fluid can build up around the baby quickly. Contact your midwife or doctor if your tummy gets bigger suddenly.
During the rest of your pregnancy, you'll probably have:
Sometimes you may need treatment to reduce the amount of fluid. Some may be drained with a needle or you may be given medication to help stop more fluid being produced.
Your midwife or doctor may also talk to you about any changes to your birth plan. See labour and giving birth if you have polyhydramnios for more about what to expect.
If you've been told you have polyhydramnios:
You may find it useful to speak to other women who've had polyhydramnios. You could try joining an online forum such as the NCT HealthUnlocked forum.
You'll normally be advised to give birth in hospital. This is so that any equipment or treatment needed for you or your baby is easily available.
You can usually wait for labour to start naturally. Sometimes induction (starting labour with medication) or a caesarean section (an operation to deliver your baby) may be needed if there's a risk to you or your baby.
You'll probably pass a lot of fluid when you give birth – this is normal and nothing to worry about. Your baby's heartbeat may also need to be monitored during labour.
After giving birth, your baby will have an examination to check they're healthy and they may have some tests – for example, a tube may be passed down their throat to check for a problem with their gut.
It's often unclear why too much fluid sometimes builds up during pregnancy, but it can be due to:
Most babies whose mothers have polyhydramnios will be healthy. Speak to your doctor or midwife if you're concerned or have any questions.