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Amniotic Fluid, Umbilical Cord

Amniotic Fluid

Attached to placenta is the membranous sac which surrounds and protects the embryo. This sac is called the amnion. It grows and begins to fill, mainly with water, around two weeks after fertilization. This liquid is called Amniotic fluid, it allows the baby to move freely, without the walls of the uterus being too tight against its body. Buoyancy is also provided here for comfort. After a further 10 weeks the liquid contains proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and phospholipids, urea and electrolytes, all which aid in the growth of baby. In the late stages of gestation much of the amniotic fluid consists of babies urine. The baby swallows the fluid and then wees it out to prepare its digestive organs for use after birth. The baby also "breathes" the fluid to aid in lung growth and development.

As with too little fluid, too much fluid or polyhydramnios, can be a cause or an indicator of problems for the mother and baby. Polyhydramnios is a predisposing risk factor for cord prolapse and is sometimes a side effect of a macrosomic pregnancy. In both cases, however, the majority of pregnancies proceed normally and the baby is born healthy.

Umbilical Cord

This is the life support for a growing embryo. The umbilical cord stretches between the placenta and the baby. This cord contains the umbilical arteries and vein. The umbilical cord forms by week 5 of conception. The cord can be 22 to 36 inches long and may have the appearance of a coil. The umbilical cord is very rich in stem cells and is often used for parents who choose to store their stem cells in a blood bank or donate it to a blood bank. These stem cells can be used to treat over 45 disorders and is an alternative from extracting the stem cells from a donor.

During your ultrasound scan you may see that the cord is around baby, we see this in over 80% of scans and it is nothing to be worried about.