My second pregnancy truly is the pregnancy that just keeps on giving. That is, keeps on giving me all the rare health complications. A PUPPPs rash affects 1 in every 150 pregnant women. Meanwhile, my latest weird and wonderful health condition, Polyhydramnios, is only found in between 0.5 – 1% of pregnant women, joy!
Being diagnosed with Polyhydramnios
My usual midwife has been on sick leave for my past two appointments. During my most recent appointment the midwife who was standing in for her took my measurements and noted that baby hadn’t really grown in the past two weeks. She initially put this down to the fact that I’d been measured by a different practitioner during my previous appointment and also that baby was now so low and engaged in my pelvis that it was difficult for her to get a true measurement. However, regardless of our intuition she booked me in for a growth scan to ensure everything was tickety-boo.
Initially I felt OK about baby’s supposed slow weight gain. After all, it was probably nothing. Although, as the afternoon wore on, I became more apprehensive and, I must admit, as Elliott sent me on mission after mission (for a snack, a drink, a fallen piece of paper, a crayon) my patience wore thin and I did wonder if running around after a bossy pre-schooler was one of the reasons why little man number two wasn’t thriving.
Growth scan at 39 weeks
I attended the hospital on Saturday morning for my growth scan. Baby was in an awkward position, as he always is for scans. He moved around lots during the scan (proving that his movements were good – something I already knew), although never really got into an optimum position for the Sonographer. As she took measurements she explained what she was doing, even showing us some of the debris in my waters which was made up of dead skin cells and hair – bleugh!
Unfortunately, it was impossible for her to take a full measurement because baby has his head nestled so low, ready to make his grand entrance. She did think he was a bit smaller than anticipated, but still within the expected parameters based on previous scans and my weight. She checked the function of the umbilical cord, my placenta and babies heart, lungs, bladder and kidneys and all seemed good. Baby certainly isn’t shy and, whilst he didn’t want us to get a good look at his head or stomach, he was quite happy to prove to us and the Sonographer that he was, most definitely – without doubt – a boy!
One thing the Sonographer was cautious about was the amount of water, or amniotic fluid, that was surrounding the baby. She kept taking measurements and suggesting it was a bit high. Not knowing what this meant I asked for clarification. She explained that there was a condition called Polyhydramnios which means there is more ‘water’ than usual. This can be due to Gestational Diabetes, an infection, or just a random quirk of Mother Nature. As she finished up my scan and wrote up my notes, she told me I would have to report to the Day Assessment Unit and have some blood tests taken.
Next steps in the diagnosis
As the Sonographer took me through to the Day Assessment Unit she explained her findings to the midwife in charge. The midwife took my notes and asked me to take a seat outside. We waited and waited and waited. Feeling a mixture of ‘I’m sure everythings OK’ and ‘Oh heck, what if it isn’t?’.
When we were called through and the midwife explained again the diagnoses and how it could be due to Gestational Diabetes (unlikely as that tends to result in a large baby, rather than a small one and would have been likely to have been picked up when the midwife was testing my urine) or an infection (something along the lines of Slapped Cheek, which to be fair is doing the rounds at Elliott’s nursery at the moment). She could take a blood test to check for both of these things, but with me now at 39 weeks there was a chance that the results wouldn’t be back before I delivered. I agreed to the blood test.
She also told me that Polyhydramnios can just be a quirk of nature with no known cause, or in very rare occasions it can be the result of a birth defect, usually within the babys oesophagus which means they struggle to swallow fluid. We had seen our baby take a wee mid-way through the 20-week scan so we were hopeful this wouldn’t be the case.
Often women with this condition are induced on their due date, but the midwife had checked my notes and seen that I wanted to opt for as natural as birth as possible, so she was happy for me to try for this, given that I was already at the 39 week mark. She took my bloods and booked me in for another scan on Friday evening (the day before my due date) where I would be scanned to check baby’s growth, my waters measured and then have a meeting with the consultant. Presumably to decide whether induction will be required or not. With no other questions at that stage we were dismissed and told to contact them if there was any change in babies movements etc…
How I feel about the diagnosis
It’s a strange mix of emotions in terms of my Polyhydramnios. On the one hand I’m like… why am I getting all the weird shit this time around? On the other, I’m like… it could be worse and at least he seems healthy.
I really don’t want to go down the induction route, having been partially induced during my last labour (birth story coming very soon) and that resulting in an assisted delivery and an increased recovery time for me and baby.
There’s also a slight feeling of guilt, as if I haven’t looked after myself so well this time around that has resulted in my health issues. Deep down I know this isn’t really the case and is just the ‘Mum guilt’ but you can’t help how you feel, right?
Of course, after my scan I consulted Dr Google and that filled me with fear. Why do we do this to ourselves? There’s talk of prolapsed umbilical cords during labour and the such like. Since having my appointment on Saturday I am full of lots of questions which I just couldn’t have fathomed at the time, so I’ve made a list of them and will be calling the midwives tomorrow to discuss.
I’m curious to see if my bloods have come back and what the results are if they have. I’m also wondering if the PUPPPS rash has any connection with the Polyhydroamnios, or whether my recent ear infection has any bearing on the increase in amniotic fluid. I’m wondering if this diagnosis automatically puts me under consultant-led care, or if I’m still OK to try to labour on the midwife-led unit. Of course, I‘m also wondering about the technicalities of labour too, things like whether a prolapsed umbilical cord are likely and whether there will be any extra tests for baby once he is born to rule out birth defects. I’m also wondering if it’s worth having a sweep ahead of my appointment on Friday to see if that can speed things along a little bit without having to go down the induction route.
I’m not going to lie. Being at the hospital did freak me out a little and I’m now more nervous about labour than I was. Wish me luck guys!
On the plus side the scan revealed that baby is no longer back to back.