Amniotic Fluid – It’s Role And Importance During Pregnancy

5 min read

Written by Suma rp

Suma rp

amniotic fluid during pregnancy

If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you must be familiar with people telling the baby is swimming inside the mother’s tummy. Did you know the baby is immersed in amniotic fluid throughout the pregnancy and gets to take its first breath only after birth? The amniotic fluid during pregnancy is very important to sustain your baby’s life and development.

Labor begins when the water breaks. The water here is nothing but this amniotic fluid that has been protecting and nurturing your baby throughout the pregnancy. What exactly is the role of this amniotic fluid in pregnancy? How important is it? Read on to know everything about amniotic fluid during pregnancy.

In This Article

What is Amniotic Fluid and What Does it Comprise of?

Amniotic fluid is a clear or light yellow-colored odorless liquid that is close to the consistency of water. The fluid surrounds the uterus and provides the baby with cushion support and protection. The amniotic fluid forms around the 12th day after conception and breaks or drains only when it is time for labor. Until then, it protects and nourishes the fetus to ensure it is healthy and safe.

Initially, the amniotic fluid is nothing but water from the mother’s body. As the fetus develops and starts swallowing the amniotic fluid, it will begin to urinate the same. Gradually the amniotic fluid will comprise mostly of the baby’s urine. The amniotic fluid is filled with essential hormones, nutrients, antibodies, and other fluids to protect and keep the developing fetus healthy. It contains essential nutrients like glucose, lactase, and protein. Albumin, ferritin, and transferrin are some of the major protein components found in the amniotic fluid.

Role of Amniotic Fluid During Pregnancy

baby in amniotic fluid

The amniotic fluid plays a vital role in fetal development. The role of the amniotic fluid during pregnancy includes the following:

1. Control Temperature 

The baby’s body is not capable of regulating temperature yet. The amniotic fluid maintains the temperature ideal for the baby by providing sufficient insulation.

2. Protect Baby

The amniotic fluid contains important antibodies that help protect the baby from various infections. In many cases, even the pregnant mother’s infection will not affect the fetus due to this effective protection.

3. Shield Baby

The amniotic fluid provides a layer of cushiony protection for the baby. So, any bumps or pressure from the outside will not reach the baby or hurt the baby easily.

4. Fetal Development

The amniotic fluid helps in the healthy development of the lungs, digestive system, bones, and muscles in the baby.

5. Support Umbilical Cord

The amniotic fluid ensures the umbilical cord does not get compressed or stuck anywhere. The cord is always free and floating, thus transferring essential nutrients and oxygen to the baby.

6. Lubricate Body

Amniotic fluid ensures the baby’s body is well lubricated and the developing parts do not stick to one another. Low levels of amniotic fluid can result in the webbing of the baby’s fingers or toes.

Importance of Amniotic Fluid During Pregnancy

fetus in amniotic sac

The amniotic fluid is very important for fetal growth and development. The amniotic fluid ensures the baby gets the required nutrition, is well protected inside the uterus and the umbilical cord does not get compressed throughout the pregnancy. The baby even gets its oxygen from this fluid.

When the baby gets bigger, the pregnant woman’s belly gets bigger. This can make it difficult for her to move around and increases the chances of bumping into surfaces or furniture as she moves around.t eh amniotic fluid takes all these hits and ensures it does not reach the baby, thus protecting it.

Too much or too little of this fluid can lead to severe complications. In most cases, these complications can be managed if the levels are noticed in time. This is why your doctor will keep a close watch on the amniotic fluid levels throughout the pregnancy.

How Much Amniotic Fluid is Normal During Pregnancy?

The ideal range of amniotic fluid during pregnancy is between 5cm and 25cm. The levels change as your pregnancy progresses. The fluid levels are at their peak around the 36th week of your pregnancy. At this time the fluid is slightly less than one liter. As your due date approaches and the baby gets bigger, the fluid levels start decreasing.

When it is time for delivery, the mucus plug detaches and the amniotic fluid starts leaking. For most women, contractions start around this time indicating it is time for the baby’s birth.

What is AFI?

Amniotic Fluid Index (AFI) refers to the depth of the amniotic fluid in the uterus. The doctor will measure this fluid level in quadrants and add them up to know the total level of amniotic fluid in the uterus.

Common Amniotic Fluid Disorders During Pregnancy

pregnant woman holding her baby bump

Common amniotic fluid disorders are related to their levels. It can either be too low or too high, both of which can be risky for the pregnancy and the baby.

1. Oligohydramnios

In this condition, the amniotic fluid is below the recommended levels. When the amniotic fluid level is low in the first two trimesters, it can lead to

  • Physical deformities in the baby
  • Miscarriage
  • Premature birth
  • Underdeveloped lungs – leading to breathing troubles

If the amniotic fluid levels are very low in the last trimester, it can lead to

[Read : Low Amniotic Fluid (Oligohydramnios) During Pregnancy]

2. Polyhydramnios

In this condition, the amniotic fluid is much more than what is ideal. Symptoms in the mother include swollen feet, constipation, or breathlessness, all of which are common during any pregnancy.

Severe polyhydramnios can lead to

[Read : Polyhydramnios]

When to See the Doctor?

If you notice any of the following symptoms, then you need to consult your doctor immediately

  • You start leaking fluid
  • Your baby’s movement has decreased
  • The scan reveals very low amniotic fluid levels
  • You notice the fluid is discolored or has a foul smell

The amniotic fluid is extremely important to sustain life throughout the pregnancy. Your doctor will keep monitoring the levels. When this fluid starts depleting from the womb, it is time for your baby to come out into the real world.

[Read : Everything About Baby Kicks And Fetal Movements]


1. Can Drinking Water Increase Amniotic Fluid During Pregnancy?

According to some studies and some doctors, drinking water and other fluids can increase your amniotic fluid levels. If your amniotic fluid level is low, consult your doctor for the best course of action.

2. How Can I Check My Amniotic Fluid at Home During Pregnancy?

You can ascertain the exact levels only in a lab through a scan. At home, you can identify a fluid leak. If the baby is not moving much or if your weight gain has not been as required, you might have low amniotic fluid but only a scan can confirm this.

3. How Much Amniotic Fluid is Normal During Pregnancy?

Your amniotic fluid can be between 5cm and 25cm. Anything lesser or more is considered to be unsafe for the developing baby.

Read Also: How Will I Know If I Am Leaking Amniotic Fluid?

Suma rp,M.Sc (Organic Chemistry) Rayalaseema University B.Sc (Biotechnology) Sri Krishna Devaraya University.

Suma is a passionate content writer with a strong keenness to understand the miracle of pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Suma has successfully transitioned into a full-time content writer and a key contributor at Being The Parent. She leverages on her experimental background in chemistry and experience in writing to come up with well-researched content that helps parents struggling to deal with various medical conditions of their children.Read more.

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