The Amniotic fluid is the fluid that surrounds the baby while in the uterus. It is a warm fluid that comforts the baby as she grows and develops over 40 weeks. The fluid helps maintain a steady temperature. It provides protection and cushion, facilitates the development of the baby’s lungs and digestive system, prevents compression of the umbilical cord and allowing the baby to move around and develop the muscles and bones. The fluid also contains several nutrients, antibodies, and hormones.

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The amniotic sac is the one who holds the baby forms about 12 days after conception.  At first, the sac is filled with mostly water. But after about 20 weeks of pregnancy onwards, the fluid is primarily with your baby’s urine.

So what it looks like if having an Amniotic fluid smell? It is clear or tinted-yellow in color. It is generally odorless. If color changes and smelly, then it could mean that the baby had its first bowel movement (meconium) while still in the mother’s womb. The doctor will then determine if there is a need for treatment after birth.

Key characteristics of amniotic fluid:

  • Typically clear to pale yellow
  • It should be odorless, or slightly sweet in odor. For some, they say it has a bleach-like smell.
  • The amount of fluid is rising throughout pregnancy and starts to subside until about 34 weeks
  • The composition of amniotic fluid is water, electrolytes, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, phospholipids, and urea, as well as fetal cells.

Normal levels of amniotic fluid

Throughout the pregnancy, the doctor will routinely check your amniotic fluid. Unstable fluid can lead problems to the pregnant mother and the baby.

The amount of amniotic fluid becomes a cushion for the baby will increase as the pregnancy progresses. As it reaches to the 36th week, then it starts to decrease. The following are indicators of normal amniotic fluid:

  • 60 milliliters (mL) at 12 weeks gestation
  • 175 mL at 16 weeks gestation
  • 400 to 1,200 mL between 34 and 38 weeks gestation

The obstetrician can measure the amniotic fluid levels with the use of an ultrasound. They calculate the fluid by the Amniotic fluid index (AFI) or the Maximum Vertical Pocket (MPV).

The doctor will consider your fluid to below if the AFI is less than 5 cm or the MPV is less than 2cm

Common problems of amniotic fluid:

  • Observance of abnormal color

In full term of pregnancy, the green or brown fluid is an indicator that the baby had the bowel movement (meconium). It can be an indication that the baby can be in distress because the pregnancy has extended enough for the baby to make the first stool.

The amniotic fluid can also be blood-tinged during labor. It happens when the cervix starts dilating or possible placental problems. But if the dark liquid is observable in the intrauterine fetal demise (IUFD), it indicates that the fetus died during the pregnancy.

  • Foul amniotic fluid smell

The abnormal odor is usually a sign of infection. Mothers that water breaks happen at home should contact a doctor immediately. Chorioamnionitis is a bacteriological infection that occurs before or during labor. The situation occurs when the bacteria infect the chorion, amnion, and amniotic fluid around the fetus. It can result in preterm birth and severe infection in the mother and the baby.

Three to twelve percent of women chorioamnionitis have bacteremia that increases during cesarean delivery. Mothers who went through cesarean delivery, 8 percent develop wound infections which can cause maternal death if the infection becomes extremely rare.

  • Oligohydramnios

The condition refers to the decrease in the amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus because of the leaking fluid or congenital problem. It may also happen if the unborn child has kidney problems because the fetus decreases the output of urine. The detection can be measured through the use of ultrasound.

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  • Polyhydramnios

It is the excessive amount of amniotic fluid around the fetus in the uterus. In this case, more fluid than normal is caused by the congenital problems of the fetus. Polyhydramnios often have no signs and symptoms. Symptoms occur when there is already difficulty of breathing, premature contractions, and severe pain in the abdomen.

When the uterus is becoming more substantial than expected, it can be an indicator that there is much amniotic fluid. Polyhydramnios can develop because of multiple pregnancies, maternal diabetes, fetus having difficulty swallowing the amniotic fluid, the fetus produces more amount of urine, congenital malformation, fetus have problems in the nervous system, infection, and anemia in the fetus.

  • Preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM)

The complication may affect the mother and the unborn child if the amniotic sac breaks too early. The complexity can be the infection, impaired fetal development, or early labor and delivery.

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The mother has to be hospitalized, take the complete bed rest, IV antibiotics, and corticosteroids to speed the fetal lung maturity. It aims to delay the labor and increase the chances of survival of the fetus if born early.

Ways of increasing and avoiding the foul amniotic fluid smell

The procedure is called Amnioinfusion. It is done when a saline solution is flushed through the uterus to increase amniotic fluid. The process is done during labor using the catheter into the uterus through the cervix.

The process is a proven technique to decrease the pressure around the umbilical cord and decrease the chances of cesarean delivery.

Amniocentesis is another way of increasing amniotic fluid. The procedure is done before the delivery. Although fluid level will decrease within the week of the process, the doctors can already examine the fetus through ultrasound and make the diagnosis

Lastly, rehydrating is another way to increase amniotic fluid.

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