During pregnancy, the baby floats in the amniotic fluid in the womb. This protects the baby from external shocks, stimuli, and pressure. At the beginning of pregnancy, there is still little amniotic fluid, the amount grows and increases up to two liters. Towards the end of pregnancy, it becomes less again as the baby grows larger and almost completely envelops the uterus.
The amount of amniotic fluid is measured during checkups during pregnancy because neither too much nor too little is good for the baby. In some cases, the amniotic fluid may even turn green. Green amniotic fluid is formed by excreting feces and can cause the baby to develop meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS).
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Green Amniotic Fluid: How It Changes Color
Amniotic fluid is formed by the amniotic cavity and is completely replaced by the placenta every three hours. Usually, the amniotic fluid is clear. It contains skin cells of the baby, cells of the intestine, and also of the kidney. With the amniotic fluid, the baby practices breathing and swallowing and can thus absorb the amniotic fluid and also excrete it again. Waste products from this process are already deposited in the intestine and excreted as so-called infantile saliva (meconium) during the first bowel movement after birth.
As a rule, the baby excretes meconium one to two days after birth. However, if the baby excretes the meconium in the womb, the amniotic fluid turns brownish-green. This is why the term green amniotic fluid is used. If the baby inhales the green amniotic fluid before or during the birth process, he or she may develop meconium aspiration syndrome. If there is a lack of oxygen supply, this may be one reason why premature meconium excretion occurs. In this case, this lack of oxygen triggers several reactions that subsequently lead to the expulsion of the baby’s meconium into the amniotic fluid.
Green Amniotic Fluid And The Consequences
Due to the lack of oxygen, the baby eventually inhales the green amniotic fluid more, so it is breathed deeper into the lungs. In the process, the meconium can clog the lungs and alveoli. Due to the contaminated lungs, the baby cannot breathe properly after birth and suffers from shortness of breath. Breathlessness over a long period of time can even lead to heart disorders. MAS can be treated very well with the help of artificial respiration and medication.
In addition, green amniotic fluid can be aspirated and help ensure that treatment is successful. If the doctors treating the baby notice that green amniotic fluid has formed during the birth process, they usually suck out the baby’s lungs as soon as the little head and shoulders have slipped out of the vagina. Just because the baby has inhaled the dirty amniotic fluid does not immediately mean that he or she also has MAS. If the baby is floppy after birth, has trouble breathing, or is even completely covered in baby fluids and has discolored skin, these can be signs of MAS.