Amniotic fluid is a clear, slightly yellowish liquid that surrounds the unborn baby (fetus) during pregnancy. It is contained in the amniotic sac.
While in the womb, the baby floats in the amniotic fluid. The amount of amniotic fluid is greatest at about 34 weeks (
The amniotic fluid constantly moves (circulates) as the baby swallows and "inhales" the fluid, and then releases, or "exhales," the fluid through urine.
The amniotic fluid helps:
- The developing baby to move in the womb, which allows for proper bone growth
- The lungs to develop properly
- Keep a relatively constant temperature around the baby, protecting from heat loss
- Protect the baby from outside injury by cushioning sudden blows or movements
An excessive amount of amniotic fluid is called
An abnormally small amount of amniotic fluid is known as oligohydramnios. This condition may occur with late pregnancies, ruptured membranes,
Abnormal amounts of amniotic fluid may cause the health care provider to watch the pregnancy more carefully. Removal of a sample of the fluid, through
Review Date: 09/02/2009
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.