In the third trimester of my pregnancy, our midwife had a suspicion that baby was breech, which led to us keeping an eye on bubba more closely and scheduling a scan at around 37 weeks to see if it had managed to get itself into the right position (ie head down).
During this scan, we found out that baby had turned and was definitely heading in the right direction, but they also picked up a slight increase in fluid levels around the baby. The scan was effectively a growth scan, to check the size of the baby, as well as the position and during these scans, they measure the fluid levels.
Apparently the norm is to be around the 80 mark, but my fluid levels were measuring at 89. We were both a little anxious when we were told this and keen to know what that could mean. The midwife said it’s usually nothing to worry about, but could be a sign that I’d developed gestational diabetes during my pregnancy. So I was sent off to the maternity triage unit to be monitored for a couple of hours and to discuss further.
This was the first time our pregnancy seemed a bit medical, which I didn’t like to be honest. We hadn’t been in once due to reduced movements in the baby or to be monitored, so it was weird when, within the hour, I was strapped-up to the monitor so they could listen in to baby. But it was no bad thing, as it’s always reassuring when more people tell you that your baby sounds like it’s doing well.
So I sat on the monitor for about an hour while we waited for the Obstetrician to come round and have a chat with us. Which eventually, she did (triage was very busy that day). We were told that my levels were only slightly increased from the norm, but as they spotted it, they would want to keep a closer eye on me over the coming weeks. I was told I would also need to take a glucose tolerance test, to rule in or out gestational diabetes, and some blood tests, in case of any infection. This was booked in for 2 days later.
We left triage feeling a little anxious and confused about what “extra fluid” or “polyhydramnios” actually meant and how it could affect our baby or the birthing experience. Nobody seemed worried, yet I was going back in for tests. I made a vow not to Google and to instead, make a note of all my questions for the next appointment.
Glucose Tolerance Test
My appointment was at midday and I had to fast from 11pm the night before going back in to triage (which, at 37 weeks pregnant, is no easy thing!). I was allowed water, but no food or other drinks. During the appointment, they took my blood pressure and a pin prick of blood from my finger, to determine whether my glucose levels were normal at that stage. Which they were. They also took some blood from my arm, to send off for screening.
Then I was given a very sugary drink in a cup, which I had to devour. It tasted a bit like really REALLY sweet lemonade. I was then asked to sit in the waiting room for 2 hours while I absorbed this drink, before re-testing. Sat in that waiting room was the longest 2 hours ever. I was listless, irritated and HUNGRY! But hubby was there for moral support and we were called back through for more blood to be taken and sent on my way (needless to say, we stopped for a huge lunch before heading back home).
They said they’d call within 24 hours, if diabetes was discovered, as that could have some more serious implications on the baby and I and that if I didn’t hear, then no diabetes was spotted. An appointment for the following Monday was made any way, to discuss the full results and next steps.
Follow-up appointment and scan
We headed back in a few days later for another growth scan on the baby and for my fluid levels to be measured. It was 89 again, so no change. I was told that there was no sign of diabetes or infection and when we asked what the extra fluid therefore meant, we were told “it’s just one of those things”. Ie. they don’t always know why, but it just happens and often doesn’t mean anything of any risk. This was reassuring, but a little frustrating, as I was also told that they’d want to monitor me weekly from thereon and that they’d want me to be on the Hospital Delivery Suite, rather than in the Birthing Centre. I won’t lie, for me personally, this was a massive blow. For 38 weeks, I’d been gearing-up for a natural, midwife-led birth with no medical intervention, and this seemed to be slipping away from me.
Why the delivery suite?
So naturally, I questioned why, if all my tests came back clear, did I have to have a hospital-led birth. Apparently, having extra fluid around the baby effectively means that it has a bit more room to “float” around and sometimes the baby’s head doesn’t always engage with the pelvis quite as effectively as it should. This therefore means a very slight increase in the cord getting wrapped around its neck during labour/delivery or for the cord to come out before the baby does. Which is why the obstetricians like to be on hand to deal with the situation quickly if necessary.
They also said that, usually, with increased fluid, they liked to ensure that the pregnancy didn’t go too far overdue, so they would be more likely to induce me by week 41, if I hadn’t gone into labour naturally. So I was booked in for another scan and chat the following week. I was told that if my waters were to go in the meantime, I would need to come straight into triage as a matter of urgency.
The third scan and “the sweep”
The following week (when I was 39 + 4 weeks pregnant), we went in for another scan to measure the fluid and another chat with the obstetrician. For the third time, my levels were at 89 (so that just must be my “normal”) and the baby seemed to be doing well and was in the right position, with its head starting to engage.
The obstetrician said that this would be a good time to do “a sweep” (separate post on that), to see if they could stimulate the on set of labour naturally. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience of my life, but was over in minutes and again, I was told that I’d need to come straight in if my waters were to break or if I had any severe cramping or bleeding.
Another appointment for a week later (at 40 +4 weeks pregnant) was made and I was sent on my way.
I’m writing this at 40 + 1 weeks pregnant, 4 days after having “the sweep” and with no signs of baby making an appearance. Apparently this is normal, as the sweep doesn’t always work or trigger the onset of labour. I think our baby is very happy where it is for now. I’m back in for another sweep in 3 days’ time and when we will also discuss possible induction dates. I’m secretly hoping to go into labour naturally before then!
I found this really useful resource on Polyhydramnios, which covers the condition in a bit more scientific detail. It’s important to note, that everyone’s experience and levels of extra fluid is different. This account is just my personal experience, but I thought it would be useful to share with other mums-to-be, who may be faced with the same thing at some stage during their pregnancy. It will likely change your birthing-plan, at least a little bit, so it is worth being prepared and clued-up on the possible outcomes.
Did you experience extra fluid during your pregnancy? It’d be great for you to share your experiences here…
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