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What is polyhydramnios?

Amniotic fluid surrounds the fetus during pregnancy. Having too much of this fluid is called polyhydramnios. It means that there's more fluid around your baby than there should be. In some cases, too much amniotic fluid doesn't cause problems. In other cases, it can cause problems, such as preterm labor.

What causes it?

In many cases, the cause of too much amniotic fluid may not be found.

But too much amniotic fluid may happen if:

  • You have diabetes. This includes diabetes that occurs during pregnancy (gestational diabetes).
  • The fetus has a development problem. Examples are genetic conditions and birth defects.
  • You are pregnant with twins or more.

What are the symptoms?

You may not have any symptoms of too much amniotic fluid. Often it's found during a routine ultrasound.

But some people do have symptoms, which may include:

  • A uterus that is larger than expected for the age of the pregnancy. Your doctor will find this out.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Contractions.

What problems can happen when you have too much amniotic fluid?

Having too much amniotic fluid increases the risk of:

  • Premature breaking (rupture) of the amniotic sac.
  • Preterm labor.
  • Placental abruption.
  • Stillbirth.

How is polyhydramnios diagnosed?

Your doctor can use ultrasound to see if you have too much amniotic fluid. This test is used to measure the pockets of amniotic fluid that surround the baby. If these measurements show too much fluid, more tests may be done to try to find the cause.

How is it treated?

In most cases, treatment is not needed. Sometimes the problem gets better over time.

If it is causing problems for you or your baby, you may need treatment. The type of treatment you get depends on how much amniotic fluid you have. It also depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy and what your symptoms are.

Your doctor may use a needle to remove extra fluid from the amniotic sac. Or you may be given medicine.

Your doctor might do extra tests, like an ultrasound of your baby. Your doctor may also monitor your pregnancy more often than usual.

Depending on your health and the health of your baby, your doctor may recommend having your baby early.


Current as of: July 11, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board: All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.