Staying hydrated is important for everyone, but it's especially important if you're pregnant. While you may want to avoid extra trips to the bathroom, adequate fluid intake is essential to supporting a healthy and safe pregnancy. Here's what you need to know about avoiding dehydration during pregnancy.
Why Is Hydration Important During Pregnancy?
Water makes up approximately 60 percent of our bodies and plays an important role in virtually every bodily function. Water helps with nutrient absorption and delivery, waste removal, digestion, and body temperature regulation. It even helps cushion your joints.
As a mom-to-be, you and your baby require more water than the average person. This is because water takes on additional roles during pregnancy. For example, water is an essential part of the placenta, which delivers nutrients to your growing baby, and the amniotic sac, which cushions your baby throughout pregnancy.
Dehydration occurs when your body loses fluids faster than you take them in. It can make it harder for the body to perform its normal functions, leading to discomfort caused by constipation and swelling. During pregnancy, inadequate fluid intake over longer periods of time can also lead to low amniotic fluid, and it may trigger Braxton-Hicks contractions, a type of contraction that occurs during pregnancy. It can also lead to more serious complications such as birth defects.
How to Avoid Dehydration During Pregnancy
You've probably been told to drink eight glasses of water a day. But the truth is that your hydration needs depend on a number of factors, including sex, location (climate and altitude), and activity level. And yes, pregnancy can also affect how much fluid your body needs. You'll likely need to take in more fluids than the average person.
Your body does a pretty good job monitoring your fluid intake, making you feel thirsty when you need more water. Another way to monitor your fluid levels is to check the color of your urine. Ideally, you want to see a pale, lemonadelike color, not dark yellow. Cottonmouth — a dry, sticky sensation in your mouth — can also be an indicator that your body needs hydration.
There are other signs of dehydration that aren't as obvious. For example, you may experience headaches, grogginess, dizziness, sleepiness, or constipation. Since your fluid levels help regulate your internal temperature, you may feel overheated if you're dehydrated. If you're experiencing nausea and have a hard time keeping food down, it's particularly important to pay attention to your fluid intake. If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to drink some water and rest.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
Here are some ways to stay on top of your fluid intake and avoid dehydration during pregnancy. Remember, your fluid intake includes more than just water; milk, juice, soup, and watery fruit like watermelons or cucumbers can all help you stay hydrated, too.
- Make it a habit. When you make hydration part of your daily routine, you're more likely to stick with it. Try drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning, or set an alarm on your phone or calendar to remind you to drink throughout the day.
- Use an app. There are a number of free or low-cost apps like Waterlogged and WaterMinder that can help you manage your fluid intake. Of course, you can also just use good old pen and paper.
- Be a goal setter. Set a daily fluid goal for the day. Mark your water bottle with stickers or rubber bands to help you keep track of your progress.
- Flavor it. It's best to stick with unsweetened beverages for the majority of your fluid intake. But if the idea of plain water doesn't excite you, you can infuse your water with fresh fruit or herbs for a subtle boost of flavor.
Along with eating well and staying active, adequate hydration is a key part of a healthy pregnancy. While it's easy to forget to drink water throughout the day, it's important to stay hydrated. If you experience symptoms of dehydration during pregnancy or are worried about your fluid intake, talk to your doctor.