In my practice, I have seen on more than one occasion, pregnant women diagnosed with low amniotic fluid after a car accident. In some cases, it was not at all shocking to the expecting mother. Especially is this so if she had experienced vaginal leakage post-collision. Other times, the news is surprising when little to no leakage occurred after the collision. Sometimes, the mother became aware of the diagnosis after she saw her OBGYN for issues she may have thought were minor or perhaps she believed to be unrelated to her car accident. These symptoms may have included a persistent chill, a severe headache, facial swelling, failure to gain weight or blurriness.
Officially, low amniotic fluid will be diagnosed as oligohydramnios.
The amniotic fluid is important to the development of a healthy baby. As expectant mothers already know, this fluid surround the baby and helps cushion him should the expectant mother take a fall or be involved in a car accident. The amniotic fluid also keeps the umbilical cord from being compressed, regulates the little ones temperature, and allows the baby to move, stretch and ‘swim.’ These movements made by the baby while still in the womb helps the baby develop muscles.
It is not uncommon for an ultrasound to be ordered after you tell your physician you were in a car accident. Sometimes, the trauma of the car accident causes a tear in the amniotic membrane which can cause some of the fluid to leak out. Othertimes, no tear results but amniotic fluid still leaks out. The OBGYN will want to determine what your amniotic fluid levels are normal or not and the ultrasound will help him or her do that.
The action the OBGYN takes next will depend on your body and it’s response to the low fluid levels. Additionally, what action that the OBGYN recommends depends in part on how far along you are in your pregnancy. The baby will be monitored to see how they are reacting and if they develop distress. This will all play a role in determining what action needs to be taken.
If the loss of fluid is not yet presenting a danger to you or your child, you may be asked to remain on bed rest or refrain from activity for a period of time and to increase your water intake. This may work. The tear may heal and/or the leaking may stop causing the fluid level to return to normal.
Since the fluid is also a reflection of the the fluid that passes from your circulatory system and the child’s own ‘recycling’ of fluids an increase of water intake may help the unborn child also excrete more urine which can help replace the volume of the lost amniotic fluid.
You may be asked to frequently for ultrasounds to make sure that the amniotic fluid returns to normal and stay normal for the remainder of your pregnancy.
If you are put on complete bed rest you and the baby will be monitored with greater frequency. If the fluid becomes dangerously low or the baby is demonstrating distress your medical provider may induce labor early to prevent problems such as the umbilical cord from compressing and to keep the baby healthy.
If you are not far enough along but the baby experiences distress or the amniotic fluid level is dangerously low, an amnioinfusion may be ordered. This is when saline solution is introduced into your uterus through the cervix.
Another additional step that may occur with this diagnosis is during the delivery of your child. Your medical provider may pump warmed saline solution into the amniotic sac to reduce the risk to the cord.
You are not alone in this. About four in one hundred women experience this during pregnancy. Despite the stress this diagnosis may put on the mother most babies are born healthy. Remaining calm, being proactive, seeking medical treatment and complying this doctor’s instructions helps keep mother and baby healthy in this circumstance.
I’m Ed Smith of the Edward A Smith Law Offices. I have been practicing personal injury law for thirty years and have obtained compensation for many mothers-to-be who experienced abnormal pregnancies after a car accident. If you are pregnant, your health and that of your child, is of utmost importance. Allow others to handle the stress of the personal injury claim for you. Please contact me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 to discuss your claim. If low amniotic fluid impacts your child negatively a claim in behalf of your newborn will also be made. If low amniotic fluid after a car accident results in a stillbirth or miscarriage, we will seek justice for you.
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Image Attribution: By David Roseborough from Los Angeles, United States [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons