Amniotic fluid is the protective liquid contained by the amniotic sac of a pregnant female. Amniotic fluid normally has a pH of 7.0 to 7.5.
At first it is mainly water with electrolytes, but by about the 12-14th week the liquid also contains proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and phospholipids, and urea, all of which aid in the growth of the fetus. It reaches the plateau of 800ml at the 28 week gestational age.
Amniotic fluid is “inhaled” and “exhaled” by the fetus. It is essential that fluid be breathed into the lungs in order for them to develop normally. Swallowed amniotic fluid also creates urine and contributes to the formation of meconium. Amniotic fluid protects the developing baby by cushioning against blows to the mother’s abdomen, allowing for easier fetal movement and promoting muscular/skeletal development.amniotic fluid swallowed by foetus help in the formation of gastrointestinal tract.
Too little amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios) can be a cause or an indicator of problems for the mother and baby. The opposite of oligohydramnios is polyhydramnios, an excess volume of amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac. The obstetrician/gynecologist should also routinely ultrasound the patient—this procedure will also give an indication of proper fetal growth and amniotic fluid development.