Water helps lubricate your joints, balance body temperature, protect your brain, and assist your body in removing waste. And during pregnancy, water does all that in addition to helping to form the placenta, and filling the amniotic sac.
For the fetus, dehydration in pregnancy can cause birth defects and poor fetal nutrition, and it also raises the risk of premature birth. And for the mother, dehydration can cause cramps, headaches, nausea, dizziness, constipation, and an increased risk of urinary tract infections. Water also helps fight morning sickness, heartburn, and indigestion.
What causes dehydration during pregnancy
You become dehydrated when your body lets out more water than it takes in. During pregnancy especially, that could mean you’re not drinking enough water, or morning sickness has caused an imbalance in the amount of water in your body. You can also lose water if you’re sweating a lot.
How to know when you’re dehydrated
You may have already heard that your urine can indicate whether or not you’re dehydrated, and it’s true – if your urine is dark yellow, as opposed to clear, this could be a sign of dehydration. Another sign of dehydration during pregnancy is maternal overheating, which is when a pregnant woman begins to feel much warmer than normal. This happens when her body doesn’t have enough water to help the body regulate its internal temperature.
Other side effects of dehydration include heart palpitations, a dry mouth, dizziness, and headaches, so if you notice any of these you should make sure that you’re not dehydrated, and contact your healthcare provider if you’re concerned, or if the symptoms don’t subside on their own.
How to prevent dehydration
The best way to prevent dehydration is to drink enough water throughout the day. You want about 8-12 cups of water every day. This may seem like a lot, but your body will use it all!
If you feel like you’re becoming dehydrated, it’s best to avoid things that increase urination, like caffeine, or increase sweating, being outside in the heat, eating salty foods, or vigorous exercise.
What to do when you can’t keep down water
If you’re having a hard time drinking water due to nausea or morning sickness, you can try a couple of different things:
- Add slices of fresh lemon, cucumber, strawberry, or lime to the water
- Put peppermint or slices of ginger in the water for crisp, anti-nausea flavoring
- Eat a meal without drinking anything before or during; wait about 20 minutes and then try drinking water
- Buy flavored seltzer water and see if that goes down easier
It’s not always easy to know if you’re dehydrated, which is why it’s good to try and stay as on top of your water intake as possible. Water is essential for life, so you want to make sure you’re always getting enough!
- “Ch. 17: Nutrition During Pregnancy.” ACOG. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Apr 2015. Web.
- Robin Elizabeth Margolis. “Why do we need to drink water?” SFGate. Hearst Communications Inc., 2017. Web.
- “Water: How much should you drink every day?” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Sep 2014. Web.