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What are the treatment options for polyhydramnios?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Doctors can provide medication that will reliably decrease production of amniotic fluid; however, this treatment cannot be used late in pregnancy. It is also possible to drain fluid directly using amniocentesis. This method risks triggering early labor or damage to the placenta, and does not stop fluid from returning. Doctors often recommend neither treatment, suggesting only an increase in the monitoring of the pregnancy. Early delivery may be necessary in severe cases.

The best you can do in preventing polyhydramnios is trying to avoid diabetes.

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Once polyhydramnios is identified the first action is to identify and treat the underlying cause, if possible. In severe cases of polyhydramnios, medications such as Indomethacin may decrease fluid production. However, indomethacin cannot be given after 32 weeks gestation because of potential fetal cardiac complications. Another possible treatment is amnio-reduction or a procedure in which excessive fluid is drained from the uterus. This is an invasive procedure and has risks to both mother and fetus. In addition, the excessive fluid often re-accumulates after it has been drained. In some cases, delivery of the fetus is the only available treatment. In these situations the mother often is given steroids prior to the delivery, in an attempt to mature the infant’s lungs.

In many cases of polyhydramnios, after identifying the underlying cause, close monitoring is the treatment. This monitoring would include frequent ultrasound examinations to evaluate fluid volume as well as to measure fetal growth and assess well-being. Since women with polyhydramnios have a higher incidence of pre-term labor due to uterine over distension other treatment may include:

  • Frequent prenatal visits with cervical examination
  • Bedrest
  • Self-monitoring for changes in fetal activity or signs of preterm labor or premature rupture of the membranes.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.