Did you know that around 60 percent of the human body is made up of water? Yup, it’s true — the wet stuff is a vital nutrient to the life of every cell, tissue, and organ that makes up your body.
Drinking water helps flush out waste, regulate temperature, support cognitive function, and lubricate the joints. Water plays a vital role in the digestive system, helps maintain blood pressure, and even delivers oxygen throughout the body.
Needless to say, water is pretty essential! But if you’re expecting, keeping hydrated is even more important — hence why most experts suggest that women bump up their H2O intake during pregnancy. So, how much water should pregnant women drink? We’ll tell you.
But First, Why Is It So Important To Hydrate During Pregnancy Anyway?
Sipping on a glass of H2O might be one of the simplest things you can do to support your pregnancy. Water helps your body absorb essential nutrients into the cells and transports vitamins, minerals, and hormones to the blood cells.
Believe it or not, these nutrient-rich blood cells travel to the placenta and, ultimately, your growing baby — all with the help of water.
What Happens if You Don’t Drink Enough Water When Expecting?
If you don’t consume enough fluids during your pregnancy, you can put yourself at risk of becoming dehydrated. This can be especially worrisome for mamas-to-be because — as we previously mentioned — water isn’t only used to form the placenta but also in the amniotic sac.
According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), dehydration during pregnancy can lead to several serious complications, such as:
- Neural tube defects
- Low amniotic fluid
- Inadequate breast milk production
- Premature labor
In addition, your blood volume can increase by almost double when pregnant. So if you don’t drink enough H2O, your blood pressure may become too low, which of course, is not good for you or your baby.
What Are the Signs of Dehydration?
Dehydration happens when the body uses more water than what is consumed. Many people are under the impression that feeling thirsty is a telltale sign that they are about to get dehydrated, but in reality, thirst is a late symptom of dehydration.
Other signs and symptoms may include:
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
- Maternal overheating
- Head and neck tension
- Sunken eyes
- Dark urine
If you experience any of these symptoms, it may be because your body is already running low on water.
That said, if you feel confused, are dealing with fainting spells, or can’t seem to catch your breath, seek medical attention immediately as you may be severely dehydrated and in need of intravenous fluids for quick rehydration.
What Are the Benefits of Staying Hydrated When Expecting?
By now, you know that water aids your body’s processes. If you don’t consume enough, you may feel a major dip in your energy levels as your body struggles to keep up.
The health advantages of staying hydrated are pretty well-known, but there are some additional benefits of drinking more H2O during pregnancy:
Benefit #1: Prevents Constipation
Thanks to fluctuating hormones, digestive issues are quite common during pregnancy — especially constipation.
An increase in progesterone levels relaxes the intestinal muscles, which slows the passage of food and waste. Fortunately, drinking plenty of water can help keep everything moving to prevent a traffic jam.
Benefit #2: Combats Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Drinking enough H2O also helps to keep your urine diluted, which not only keeps things flowing smoothly but also keeps urinary tract infections (UTIs) at bay. This is because holding in your urine for too long can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, and drinking water helps flush them right out.
Benefit #3: Keeps You Cool
Nothing is worse than feeling hot and sweaty — especially when pregnant. But if you keep yourself properly hydrated, you can keep your body’s cooling system on full blast. This is because drinking water helps regulate temperature while replacing the fluid lost through sweating.
How Much Water Should Pregnant Women Drink?
So, how much water should a pregnant woman drink, you ask? According to the Institute of Medicine, moms-to-be should aim to drink around ten eight-ounce glasses of H2O each day during their pregnancy. Will you be breastfeeding for the first year or so? Increase your water intake up to 12 cups a day.
How To Increase Your Water Intake During Pregnancy
Drinking fluids throughout the day can be tough, especially when pregnant. Tiny bladders, heartburn, and morning sickness make it exponentially more challenging to keep hydration levels up. But as we mentioned earlier, water is critical for both you and your little one.
In other words, while it may be hard to stay hydrated, it’s of the utmost importance that you power through. Increasing your daily amount of water intake is not only important for hydration, but drinking enough is essential for healthy fetal development.
With that in mind, here are some great tips to help increase your water intake:
Tip #1: Start the Day With a Glass of H2O
Skip your morning cup of joe and opt for a tall glass of H2O upon waking instead. Water will help kick-start your metabolism and rehydrate your body to leave you feeling refreshed and ready to start the day.
Tip #2: Eat Hydrating Foods
Did you know that some of your fluid intake naturally comes from food? To ensure you’re fueling your body with enough H2O, reach for foods with high water content, such as watermelon, peaches, oranges, celery, spinach, and cucumber.
Tip #3: Jazz Up Your Water Needs
Not particularly fond of water? Keep yourself hydrated with decaffeinated tea or fruit juice. You can also try jazzing up your regular ol’ drinking water with a slice of lemon, cucumber, or some berries.
Pro Tip: Dealing with morning sickness? Add mint. You’ll thank us later.
Tip #4: Keep H2O on Hand
Invest in a cute reusable water bottle or jug and keep it on hand throughout the day. This will serve as a subtle reminder to hydrate. Plus, it’s much better for the environment than relying on plastic water bottles. #SaveTheTurtles!
Tip #5: Set Reminders
Instead of waiting until you have an urge to quench your thirst, try setting reminders on your phone to ensure you drink a lot of water throughout the day. Remember, if you’re feeling thirsty, it’s a sign that you’re already dehydrated — so set alarms on your phone and drink up!
Tip #6: Eat Popsicles
Popsicles are a fantastic and refreshing way to keep your fluid levels up — especially if you live in a warmer climate. You can purchase these little delights in most supermarkets; just be sure to keep an eye on the sugar content. To ensure you’re fueling your body with only clean ingredients and nothing artificial, you could also make your own!
So, how much water should a woman drink during pregnancy, you ask?
According to the experts at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), pregnant women should aim to consume ten eight-ounce glasses of water each day during pregnancy.
Proper hydration — combined with prenatal vitamins, light exercise, and regular check-ups with a healthcare provider — can help support prenatal care while keeping uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms, such as constipation, night sweats, and urinary tract infections, at bay.
Ten eight-ounce glasses of H2O may seem like a lot — and it most definitely is! But by jazzing up the type of water you’re drinking and opting for hydrating foods like watermelon and cucumber, you’ll reach your intake target in no time. If keeping yourself well-hydrated feels impossible, talk with your OB/GYN.
We hope this guide answered all of your questions about proper hydration during a healthy pregnancy. To discover more helpful articles like this, head on over to our 8 Sheep Organics blog today!