In The Guide
Morning sickness, food aversions, and a heightened sense of smell can lead many women to turn their nose up at the idea of consuming many types of food and drink during pregnancy.
As levels of HCG rapidly rise in a pregnant woman’s body, nausea and vomiting make it challenging for many to receive adequate amounts of water and nutrients, causing dehydration.
Dehydration occurs when the body uses more water and fluids than it takes in. As a result, the various systems of the body struggle to function as they should.
Dehydration isn’t simply associated with morning sickness, though.
Later in pregnancy, overheating can begin to lead the body towards dehydration as well. It’s important for future mamas to stay hydrated at all times for their own health and that of their developing fetus.
Dehydration is always a serious medical condition and it becomes even more so while pregnant. Here’s what you need to know to avoid dehydration during pregnancy– and why it’s important to do so.
Why the importance of water?
Most of us know that it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water to stay healthy.
The Institute of Medicine says the average woman should aim for about nine cups per day. However, many may not know that pregnant women require even more fluid intake than an average adult does. It is typically recommended that women who are pregnant drink between eight to twelve glasses of water per day.
This is because pregnancy causes the body to need–and use–more water. All the water that the body uses then has to be replenished in order to stay hydrated and continue the important work of developing a baby.
During the summer months, while exercising, or even spending time in a warm and dry climate may also impact the amount of fluids each individual woman needs. Water plays an important role in the development of the fetus and in maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
Consuming water aids in the creation of the placenta, which supplies nutrients to the baby in utero. It also plays a critical role in the formation of the amniotic sac later in pregnancy.
Drinking enough fluids can also help safeguard against many of the discomforts of pregnancy, like constipation and swelling. On the other hand, serious dehydration can have a devastating impact during and after pregnancy by leading to neural tube defects, low amniotic fluid levels, premature labor, and low breastmilk production.
Staying hydrated is just one of many simple ways to contribute to a happy and healthy pregnancy for both mom and baby.
Listen to your body.
It’s okay if you want to choose another beverage option to quench your thirst besides just H2O.
Pregnant women are encouraged to drink milk, soy beverages, fruit or vegetable juice, and herbal teas as well. Sparkling waters and seltzers can help increase fluid intake and soothe upset stomachs.
Coffee and regular tea can also be consumed, although sparingly because of their caffeine content. In addition, pregnant women can get fluids from eating foods that are high in water content: fruits, vegetables, soups, and even yogurt.
It’s a good idea to keep a bottle of water with you at all times– in the car, on your desk at work, and at home– for quick and easy sipping. Adding fresh slices of lemon or another fruit can help add flavor and encourage you to drink up.
Drink more fluids during the times of the day that you feel less nauseous and reach for water-rich snacks during the day, like a slice of watermelon.
Signs of dehydration in pregnancy.
There are many common symptoms of dehydration that you can be on the lookout for during pregnancy. These include:
- Dry mouth
- Increased thirst
Another helpful way for mamas-to-be to gauge their level of hydration is by simply checking the color of their urine. If it is a light yellow color or clear, then that’s a good sign that the body is well-hydrated. If it is dark in color, it may mean that it’s time to increase fluid intake.
Paying attention to the frequency of restroom visits can also help inform moms of their level of hydration.
A decrease in the need to use the restroom may be a sign that the body needs more water. If you experience any of the above symptoms, it’s a good idea to reach out to your doctor to determine if follow-up care is needed.
How to treat dehydration.
The way to treat dehydration is to provide the body with more water and fluids. If dehydration during pregnancy becomes severe, women may need to receive fluids through an IV and require hospitalization.
When the root cause of the dehydration is nausea and vomiting, treatment may include anti-nausea medications to ease symptoms.
Some studies have shown that the intake of certain over-the-counter medications and supplements, such as Doxylamine (Unisom) and vitamin B6, are safe and effective ways to combat nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. If nausea and vomiting are inhibiting your ability to stay hydrated and gain nutrients, talk to your doctor about the best options for treatment.
Fill your glass!
Overall, drinking plentiful water and other fluids is an easy way to help keep both you and your baby healthy during pregnancy.
Try drinking a full glass when you first wake up in the morning or even right before bed to up your water intake. Keep an eye on the amount of water you’re consuming everyday.
And, of course, always have water and other fluids available during any strenuous activity.
Your body–and your baby– will thank you for it. Drink up!
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