Amniotic fluid and why it's important
Amniotic fluid is a liquid which surrounds the baby during pregnancy and has various functions in helping to develop and protect the baby.
During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy amniotic fluid is produced by the mothers body via the placenta, from the membranes surrounding the baby and from the mothers own circulatory system which consists of the heart, blood vessels and blood itself.
From around 12-14 weeks the baby will begin to swallow the fluid surrounding it and pass it out as urine. By swallowing the amniotic fluid this creates a positive pressure in the baby/s developing lungs which assists the lungs to grow and mature.
In the case of bilateral renal agenesis, because the kidneys are absent, no urine is being produced and therefore the lungs do not develop or mature enough to enable the baby to breathe when its born. This is called pulmonary hypoplasia as described previously.
Amniotic fluid also has many other important roles during pregnancy. The fluid not only aids the development of the respiratory system and the renal system but it also helps to develop the digestive system too.
It also provides a warm protective environment for the baby as well as providing a cushion from the mother moving around. Because of this the baby is able to move around in the uterus more freely and this movement helps contribute to bone and muscle development.
And finally, antibodies are found in amniotic fluid which help to fight infection protecting the baby and the uterus.