Are you worried about dehydration during pregnancy? If you are struggling to keep up your water intake and want to know about the causes, symptoms, and prevention tips of dehydration in pregnant women, you’ve come to the right place.
8 Sheep has compiled a guide on everything you need to know about dehydration — and some helpful tips and tricks to keep your fluid intake up.
When you’re pregnant, one of the most important things to note is how many glasses of water you’re drinking throughout the day. Since you’re working hard at growing your little one, your body needs enough fluids for the both of you.
If you want to know how to spot dehydration during pregnancy, keep reading for all the information you need to know!
Why Is Staying Hydrated Extra Important During Pregnancy?
You need more water than usual when you’re pregnant because your baby needs water too. Good old-fashioned H2O plays a crucial role in a healthy pregnancy for you and fetal development for your baby.
Here are some ways being pregnant increases the amount of water your body uses:
- Your blood volume will significantly increase during pregnancy. Studies show that if you're healthy and pregnant, you can carry 130 to 180 ounces of blood. That’s almost double what the average person has!
- Your placenta and amniotic fluid need a lot of water to cushion and protect the baby.
- You need extra fluid intake to produce breast milk, especially if you’re breastfeeding a little one while another little one is on the way.
- B vitamins and vitamin C, which are all crucial for a healthy pregnancy, are water-soluble. Your body needs the extra water to be able to absorb these vitamins properly.
How Much Water Should I Drink While Pregnant?
The best way to stay properly hydrated is to ensure you are getting enough water throughout the day. You should try to aim for between 8 to 12 cups daily, which is actually pretty close to how much water you should be drinking anyway.
This sounds like a lot, pregnant or not, but remember that water comes in different forms — that soup you had for lunch, that orange juice you had with breakfast, and that cucumber salad you’re having for dinner all contain a high portion of water that counts toward your overall fluid intake. Just make sure you’re drinking at least a few glasses of plain water through the day, too!
Experts recommend avoiding caffeine, but otherwise you can also drink milk, natural fruit juices, or low-sugar sports drinks on the daily to help you meet your recommended fluid intake.
Always remember to adjust based on your needs, too. If it’s a hot day outside or you just went for an extra vigorous morning walk, add an extra cup or two to your fluid intake for the day. Most women also find they feel thirstier when they reach their second and third trimester, too.
What Is Dehydration?
Dehydration is when your body uses more water than you consume, i.e. your body’s fluids supply is getting drained because you’re not replenishing it fast enough.
What Causes Dehydration?
When you’re pregnant, it’s especially important to monitor how much fluid you’re drinking throughout the day because fluids play a crucial role in the nourishment and protection of your developing baby. Learning the early signs of dehydration makes it easier for you to take action sooner before symptoms get worse.
You can lose fluids in a few pregnancy-specific ways, so it’s important to be aware of how the following may affect your hydration levels:
- Dietary habits. If you are nauseous, you may feel inclined to skip meals. While this generally won’t cause harm if you only skip once in a while, you will miss out on fluids you would get from having a meal.
- Morning sickness. This can result in vomiting, which can contribute to dehydration as you lose a decent volume of fluids and electrolytes at a fast rate. This is also true if you are experiencing diarrhea.
- Swelling. The later stages of pregnancy can result in swelling, typically in your legs. This can take water away from the rest of your body as the water accumulates in one general area.
- Excessive sweating. Many women feel hot during pregnancy, which usually is harmless unless your body temperature is higher than usual for an extended period of time. If you’re feeling hot, going out for your regular daily walk can cause you to sweat a lot more, which calls for extra fluids.
Again, this is all to make sure you are noticing your daily habits and adjusting when you may need to have more fluids or drink more water. If you have a healthy diet and are consistently making sure to stay on top of your liquids, chances are you are fine.
What Are Signs of Dehydration During Pregnancy?
How do you know when you’re getting dehydrated? If you want to know about some of the possible symptoms of dehydration during pregnancy, here are some listed below:
- Dryness: Your mouth may feel dry, as well as your lips, eyes, and even skin in general. This is because as your body gets dehydrated, it doesn’t prioritize sending fluids to these regions, instead redirecting fluids to your internal organs. With dry mouth also comes bad breath, with dry lips comes chapping, while dry eyes and skin can mean itchiness and irritation.
- Darker, more yellow urine: Your urine may appear darker in color. Urine should generally be a very light yellow — the darker your pee, the more dehydrated you are.
- Poor focus, tiredness, or dizziness: Your brain needs water to perform all of the millions of functions needed to go about your day-to-day. Since your brain needs a lot of water to do its jobs, you may notice some brain fog and general tiredness when your water stores are getting low, and even a dizziness and lightheadedness in later stages of dehydration.
- Headache: Feeling a general, broad-spanning headache is one of the first signs that you’re starting to get dehydrated. Before you reach for the ibuprofen, try drinking a glass of water to rehydrate your most important organ!
- Constipation: If you’re not consuming enough fluids, you may find it difficult to have bowel movements. Your large intestine’s job is to pull fluids from the waste passing through, so if there is little fluid there to begin with, your stool may end up a lot harder and drier than it should be, making it difficult to use the bathroom regularly.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, do your best to up your fluid intake — the best way is with water, but if drinking juice or herbal tea coaxes you to increase your fluid intake, those are okay, too. Just make sure to include some water in your daily drink lineup, even if you’re not drinking only water!
Keep in mind that these symptoms may mean more than just you being dehydrated, so if drinking some water doesn’t help these symptoms improve, it’s worth giving your healthcare provider a call to let them know what’s going on.
What Are Complications of Dehydration During Pregnancy?
It’s important to be on the lookout for signs of dehydration in pregnancy because mild dehydration can quickly become severe dehydration, which can result in pregnancy complications for you and your little one.
Here are some symptoms of what severe dehydration can look like:
- Extreme thirst
- Excessive dry mouth and skin
- Irritability and confusion
- Infrequent urination, with urine that is very dark
- Sunken eyes
- Rapid heartbeat and breathing
- Low blood pressure
These symptoms indicate a medical emergency, and you should have someone take you to receive emergency care as soon as possible. In severe cases of dehydration, you will usually be rehydrated through an intravenous (IV) fluid solution and monitored until your vitals return to normal and your symptoms subside.
Some complications of severe dehydration during pregnancy can include:
- Low amniotic fluid
- Premature labor
- Poor or low production of your breast milk
- Braxton-Hicks contractions, aka “false labor” contractions
How Do You Prevent Dehydration During Pregnancy?
Remember, mild to even moderate dehydration can be resolved by immediately upping your fluid intake — that’s as easy as going into the kitchen and grabbing a glass of water!
Chances are, you know when you’re approaching dehydration because your body is going to tell you it’s thirsty — keeping a drink within arm’s reach throughout your day is an easy way to stay hydrated. In our busy lives, it’s easy for us to ignore a little thirst if it means we have to get up to go get a drink — you may be surprised at how much more water you drink if you keep that refillable water bottle by your side through the day!
If it’s hard to keep on top of your water intake even with that, you can even set reminders for yourself. Setting phone alarms to have a few sips every 30 minutes can be a great start, and there are even mobile apps that can help, too!
Don’t forget that water-rich foods can also help you up your fluid intake — if you’re a fan of soup, start to regularly include soup as a snack or even a whole meal during the day. Other snacks like celery and peanut butter, a cucumber salad, and fruit are also high in water content.
With everything going on in our busy day-to-day lives, sometimes it’s easy to brush aside the little things that contribute to self-care, including drinking enough water. For some of us, we need to make a conscious effort to stay hydrated, and that’s totally okay.
It’s important to try and stay as hydrated as you can for a successful pregnancy. If you’re struggling to stay hydrated or notice some of the signs of mild dehydration starting to creep up, consider implementing the above habits to stay on top of your fluids.
For more helpful guides like this to help answer your pregnancy-related questions, explore the 8 Sheep blog here!
Blood volume changes in normal pregnancy | NIH
Dehydration | MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
5 common questions about Braxton Hicks contractions | Mayo Clinic