Drinking water does much more than just quench your thirst — it’s essential to keeping the human body running optimally and feeling healthy.
Every organ, tissue, system, and cell — from your head to your toes — depends on water to function and survive. In fact, without water, we wouldn’t last for more than a few days.
And depending on certain factors, you may be even more susceptible to the effects of dehydration.
Pregnancy is one of those factors. Pregnant women tend to have a much higher need for water as it is imperative for a growing newborn’s healthy development and functioning.
So, how much water should pregnant women drink to keep dehydration at bay? We’ll provide general guidelines later in this article. But first, let’s talk about the importance of keeping hydrated during pregnancy.
Hydration and Pregnancy: Everything You Need To Know
Hydration is always important, but this is especially true if you’re pregnant. Not only is your body made up mostly of water, but so is your newborn baby’s!
What’s more, water is needed to help form amniotic fluid, produce extra blood volume, and build new tissue whether you are in your first trimester or your third trimester. It’s responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients to your newborn, assists with fetal kidney functions, and enhances digestion while flushing out wastes and toxins via the urinary tract.
In addition to supporting a healthy pregnancy, drinking water when pregnant can provide many great benefits, such as:
- Eases constipation to keep hemorrhoids at bay
- Prevents urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Reduces edema
- Softens skin
- Reduces the risk of preterm labor and pre-eclampsia
- Fights fatigue
- Supports metabolism
Water also helps keep the body cool and maintain the appropriate temperature, especially in the hot and humid months. Be sure to drink plenty of H2O throughout the day to prevent dehydration and keep your body running optimally.
What Are the Signs of Dehydration in Pregnancy?
When you lose more fluid than what you take in, your body will signal the symptoms of dehydration, alerting you that it doesn’t have enough water to function as normal.
Some of the telltale signs of dehydration you should look out for include:
- Thirst and hunger. Feeling thirsty is typically the first sign of dehydration, but it’s not uncommon to feel especially hungry too.
- Vertigo. Dehydration can lead to a drop in blood pressure, resulting in dizzy spells or lightheadedness, usually when standing, kneeling, or bending over.
- Dark yellow urine. When adequately hydrated, urine should be a pale-yellow color. Dark yellow urine with a strong pungent odor signals dehydration.
- Brain fog. Believe it or not, water is a key player in the healthy functioning of your brain. In fact, being dehydrated by just two percent can impair one’s ability to carry out cognitive tasks.
- Headaches. The brain may temporarily contract or shrink when dehydration sets in due to fluid loss. This can cause your brain to pull away from the skull, resulting in a painful headache or migraine.
- Exhaustion. Because the human body is made up of mostly water and plays a major role in carrying nutrients to cells, you may feel super sleepy, sluggish, or weak without drinking enough H2O.
In addition, dehydration can cause your skin to lose elasticity and moisture as it stretches and tightens to accommodate a growing belly. This can lead to itchiness or other uncomfortable symptoms often associated with dry skin.
How Much Water Should Pregnant Women Drink?
When trying to figure out how much water you should aim to drink during your pregnancy, it’s always best to check with your OB/GYN, who can provide you with exact guidelines based on your individual needs.
Though it tends to vary depending on a few things — such as your body type, size, and activity level — the general rule of thumb is somewhere between eight to twelve 8-ounce cups of water a day, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
To avoid feeling uncomfortably full, try to pace yourself with small sips throughout the day as opposed to chugging large amounts in a single sitting.
Is It Possible To Drink Too Much Water?
Overhydration, or extra water, can lead to hyponatremia (low sodium levels) and deficiencies in other electrolytes like magnesium and potassium. Extra fluids can cause an electrolyte imbalance which isn’t good for anyone, whether pregnant or not.
While it is possible to drink too much water when you’re carrying a newborn, it isn’t easy to overdrink. Most of us will naturally stop when we’ve drunk a good amount of liquids.
In other words, it’s much easier to become dehydrated than overhydrated.
Any Tips To Help Keep Dehydration at Bay?
We have quite a few! Here are some of the best tips and tricks to help prevent dehydration:
- Drink before you feel thirsty. The best way to prevent dehydration is not to wait until you get to the point where you feel thirsty. When most folks feel thirsty, it’s a sign that they’re already slightly dehydrated. Keep your fluid levels in check by steadily hydrating with small sips of H2O throughout the day before you even feel thirsty.
- Steer clear of the heat. A little sunshine when you’re pregnant is beneficial, but too much can cause you to sweat, and sweating happens to be one of the quickest ways the human body can lose water. Keep yourself cool and limit the amount of time spent in the sun.
- Fill up on water-rich fruits and veggies. Feelin’ snackish? To help boost your water intake, load up on fresh, water-rich fruits and veggies, such as watermelon, cucumber, pomegranate, celery, and peaches.
- Limit caffeine. Try to limit your caffeine intake, as this can act as a diuretic. When you’re in need of a little pick-me-up, reach for coconut water or a cup of decaf tea instead.
- Jazz up your water. If you’re not particularly fond of water, jazz it up with a slice of lemon, cucumber, watermelon, mint, or berries.
- Hydrate with other fluids. Feeling bored of water? Fresh juice, decaf tea, milk, and even soups count as water of fluid intake.
- Keep strenuous activity down to a minimum. If you’re planning to exercise, keep your activity level light and drink plenty of H2O before, during, and after your workout to replenish lost fluids.
So, how much water should a pregnant woman drink, you ask?
At the end of the day, no two pregnancies are exactly the same as everyone is different. When figuring out how much fluids your body needs to support a healthy pregnancy, talk to your doctor, who can steer you in the right direction based on your unique individual needs.
The standard advice for pregnant women is to consume around 8 to 12 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
Does that sound like a lot of water? Don’t worry — you’re free to consume other hydrating fluids, such as fruit juice, sparkling water, decaf herbal teas, and soup. Water-rich fruits and veggies like watermelon, strawberries, cucumber, and peaches are excellent choices (and great for a quick cool down in hot weather).
In general, if you’re getting enough fluids so that you rarely ever feel thirsty and your urine is light in color, you’re likely doing just fine at staying hydrated — so keep doing what you’re doing!
At 8 Sheep Organics, our goal is to provide you with all the information needed to help you have a comfortable and enjoyable pregnancy. For more helpful blogs like this one to guide you through the FAQs of pregnancy, explore more information on our blog.