We've been featuring amazing photos and videos of babies being born still inside the amniotic sac, which plays a vital role in your pregnancy. The amniotic sac is the thin-walled membrane that houses your developing baby, the placenta, and the amniotic fluid, a clear yellowish liquid. The sac is your water bag, the one that breaks when you go into labor (although not all moms get to experience this.)
The amniotic sac is essentially your baby's first home. It starts to form within days after conception and is composed of two membranes: the inner membrane (amnion), which contains the amniotic fluid and the fetus, while the outer membrane (chorion), which contains the amnion and is part of the placenta.
The sac may be smooth to the touch, but it's hard to pierce through. Together with the amniotic fluid, it acts as a cushion for your baby to keep him safe from bumps and jolts and helps regulate the warm temperature inside the womb. It also acts as the baby's barrier against bacteria.
In the early days of the pregnancy, the amniotic fluid is mostly water from the mother's body, but as the baby develops and starts to pee, the fluid will contain his urine, too. It sounds gross, but don't worry. Registered nurse Lori Smith shares in her article more of its amazing responsbilities:
It allows your baby to move freely inside the womb, which helps with bone growth and development.
Your baby breathes through the amniotic fluid, and it's vital in the proper development of the lungs.
Your baby also learns to swallow via the fluid and helps in the digestive system's development.
It contains hormones, immune system cells, and nutrients your baby needs.
It also contains skin cells that your baby sheds as he grows. It's why some genetic tests use the fluid to check for your unborn baby's health.
The amount of amniotic fluid increases as your pregnancy progresses. According to BabyCenter, it's the highest at the 36th week, at about 800 to 1000 milliliters, then it will gradually decline once you hit the 38th-week mark. The doctor will always check your amniotic fluid to make sure you are not leaking -- it should not be too little (oligohydramnios) nor too much (polyhydramnios).
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Low levels of amniotic fluid or leaking during first or second trimester may cause complications, like miscarriage or still birth, premature birth, birth defects, or infection, In the third trimester, low amniotic fluid could cause labor difficulties and may disrupt normal blood flow and oxygen transport to the baby.
Some red flags to watch for that may indicate you're leaking amniotic fluid are trickles of liquid, which can be clear or slightly tinged with mucus of blood. It often has no odor, but it can soak your your underwear or sanitary pad. It's different from your water bag breaking, which is a sudden gush of water. In any case, call your doctor immediately and ready your delivery day bags as he may instruct you to go to your birth hospital.