Pregnancy introduces so many changes and new considerations into a woman’s routine, but some things remain constant. A basic but often overlooked concept that holds true throughout parenthood: Caring for mama equals caring for the child. It is helpful to remember when things get overwhelming, especially in early pregnancy: what to consume and what to avoid, supplements to take, safely staying fit, precautions while travelling; and suggested lifestyle changes. Essentially, the dos and don’ts are about keeping mom healthy and the little one away from harm.
Dehydration during pregnancy may be a worrisome and uncomfortable issue. As a mother-to-be, it's critical to recognise the various sore points linked to dehydration and how to successfully address them. Dehydration can cause fatigue, dizziness, headaches, constipation, and even labour contractions. However, you can control and alleviate these problems with an easy plan to stay hydrated through your nine months together. Let's look at the most frequent developments of dehydration in pregnancy and find efficient solutions to ensure the health of both you and your child.
Drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day is the golden rule we learn about, early in life. Does this hold true when a woman is expecting? Read on to find out and learn key facts about dehydration during pregnancy.
Effects of dehydration in pregnancy vs. benefits of staying well-hydrated
Dehydration during pregnancy poses risks to both mom and the foetus. Particularly for pregnant women who lose a lot of water in a short span of time particularly through vomiting or diarrhoea, which may result in a drop in their blood pressure.1 Also, longer periods of dehydration in pregnancy may lead to restricted foetal growth in birth weight, length, and head circumference.5
This is because the liquid mom consumes daily supplies the amniotic fluid in the womb, which makes up the immediate environment of the foetus. This fluid allows them to breathe, cushions them from injury, keeps their home temperature steady, allows for optimum movement, promotes bone growth, and helps in organ development.2
On the other hand, avoiding dehydration during pregnancy helps mom’s digestive system and prevents constipation. It also boosts the blood supply to the womb and consequently to the foetus. In the early stages of pregnancy, mom’s water intake is crucial to the development of the placenta, which delivers nutrients to the foetus.3
Recognizing the symptoms of dehydration in pregnancy
The key to addressing dehydration in pregnancy is knowing the telltale symptoms:
Infrequent trips to the bathroom
Parched/thirsty, dry lips and mouth
Lack of perspiration
Other symptoms of dehydration in pregnancy, that may seem unrelated to water intake, but actually are:4
Ignoring the symptoms of dehydration in pregnancy
Hospitalisation may occur in cases of severe dehydration during pregnancy. This is to avoid pregnancy complications such as preterm labour and other more serious foetal conditions.
If any of these symptoms occur, take appropriate precautionary measures and hydrate immediately. “Maternal overheating” is also a symptom of dehydration in pregnancy, signalling that there’s not enough water to help regulate body heat.
Preventing dehydration during pregnancy through healthy habits
So is 8 glasses of water a day enough for pregnant mothers? That’s the bare minimum. The recommendation is 8-12 glasses a day.
Other fluids can also help contribute towards this daily goal. Fresh fruit juices or smoothies and carbonated water with lemon or mint are great options. Milk contains a lot of water.6 For milk that’s specially formulated for a mother’s nutritional needs during pregnancy and helps support foetal growth and development, check out Enfamama A+ with 360° DHA Plus. It’s the maternal milk that is high in choline and folic acid. The prebiotic (inulin) in the formula also promotes a healthy intestinal environment.
Drinks to avoid are those that contain caffeine.⁷ Instead, try herbal teas that are pregnancy-safe.
If increasing your daily liquid intake seems a little daunting, here are some practical tips that will help you check it off your to-do list:
Make it easy to monitor your water intake. Bring a 1-litre bottle around with you. Finishing two of these means you’ve reached the minimum of 8 glasses!
You can make it fun, too. Buy a new mug or a cute water bottle, have (low-sugar) mocktails or afternoon tea dates, experiment with healthy smoothie recipes.
Add more fruits, veggies, and healthy soups to your meals. Aside from increasing your liquid intake to prevent dehydration during pregnancy, these will also boost the nutrients in your diet.
Do indoor workouts. Dehydration happens when there’s more water loss than intake. Keep the perspiration to a minimum and stay hydrated while you exercise!
Seeking medical help for dehydration during pregnancy
Pay close attention to your liquid intake and the symptoms of dehydration in pregnancy, especially if your “morning sickness” is intense and/or prolonged.
Pregnant moms with nausea may have a hard time eating and drinking, while those who vomit often may be losing too much water.
Later in pregnancy, discomfort and indigestion may also contribute to decreased liquid consumption.
Do not hesitate to contact a healthcare professional if you experience some symptoms of dehydration in pregnancy that don’t easily go away with increased fluid intake or moving to a cooler environment.
Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Noel M. Lee, M.D., Gastroenterology Fellow and Sumona Saha, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine. doi: 10.1016/j.gtc.2011.03.009 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3676933/
Amniotic Fluid. (Reviewed on Nov 10, 2022). Retrieved on June 1, 2023 from https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/special-topic/amniotic-fluid.
Dehydration During Pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved on June 1, 2023 from https://americanpregnancy.org/womens-health/dehydration-pregnancy/.
How Much Water Should a Pregnant Woman Drink? (Reviewed on Jul 20, 2020). Retrieved on June 1, 2023 from https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/how-much-water-should-a-pregnant-woman-drink#signs-of-dehydration.
Effect of dehydration during pregnancy on birth weight and length in west Jakarta Published online 2021 Aug 27. doi: 10.1017/jns.2021.59 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8411261/#:~:text=Dehydration%20effect%20on%20birth%20output&text=In%20dehydrated%20mothers%2C%20the%20weight,than%20the%20normal%20mother%20group.
How hydration during pregnancy can benefit you and your baby. Lupe Cruz. July 31, 2017. https://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/topics/live-well/2017/07/how-hydration-during-pregnancy-can-benefit-you-and-your-baby/.
Coffee and caffeine use during pregnancy. Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD. Primary Care Pediatrics at Nemours Children's Health. Jan 2023 https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/preg-caffeine.html.