An excess of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby
The build-up of more than normal levels of amniotic fluid is usually detected and confirmed in the later stages of pregnancy during a routine appointment. Although Polyhydramnios is not normally a sign of anything serious you and your baby will be closely monitored throughout the remainder of your pregnancy.
Polyhydramnios is diagnosed by a Sonographer at an ultrasound scan appointment. By measuring the Amniotic Fluid Index (AFI) they will be able to confirm if the fluid increase is mild, moderate or severe. At this scan your baby's bladder, kidneys and stomach will be looked to exclude any major problems. If the AFI is very high you may be offered an appointment with the Fetal Medicine Specialist for a more detailed scan.
In 80% of cases the cause of polyhydramnios is unknown however, it can be linked to Gestational Diabetes so you may be offered a glucose tolerance test to exclude this pregnancy complication.
The vast majority of women with Polyhydramnios will not have any significant complications and will go on to have healthy babies. That said the condition can cause significant discomfort for the mother with excessive swelling, heartburn, constipation and breathlessness.
The increase of fluid around the baby causes the risk of a cord prolapse (the umbilical cord drops through the cervix into the vagina ahead of the baby) to increase. You will be advised that you should have your baby in hospital and must contact your maternity unit immediately if your waters break.
Remember Polyhydramnios is not usually a sign of any significant problem so try not to worry too much and hang in there - you won't be this uncomfortable forever!