Learning how to prevent dehydration during pregnancy is extremely important. Your body depends on and uses water for survival. Water plays a crucial role in a healthy pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body uses water to form the amniotic fluid, it helps power the metabolism to form the placenta, it increased your blood volume that will carry essential nutrients to your growing baby. Therefore, learning how to prevent dehydration during pregnancy is very important.
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This post contains affiliate links. You can read our affiliate disclaimer at the bottom of this post.
Dehydration occurs when you lose more water than you take in. In order to understand how to prevent dehydration during pregnancy, it is helpful t0 review the balance of hydration that must be maintained on a daily basis.
Hospitals monitor fluid balance by recording fluid input versus fluid output, referred to as I’s and O’s:
- Fluids ingested orally
- Intravenous fluids
- Fluids administered through any other portal for feeding etc.
- Pregnancy ads a unique source of fluid intake which is the drastic 50% increase in blood volume which occurs during the course of a normal pregnancy. (Combine this pregnancy demand with the propensity to experience more vomiting during pregnancy and it is not hard to see how fluid balance during pregnancy can become negative quite easily.)
- Fluid loss through voiding (urinating).
- If a patient is vomiting during their hospital stay, an estimate of fluid lost as a result of vomiting is recorded.
- Diarrhea is another source of fluid loss which is monitored closely.
- Insensible losses are recorded daily and are based on a patients size. Insensible losses are fluid losses not always considered but are equally important. For the average individual, it is estimated that about 500cc’s of fluid is lost each day through insensible losses. The most common source of insensible fluid loss is through our respiration of humidified air. Another source is through sweating.
- Any bleeding would be considered a loss of bodily fluid loss as well, though this is less of a concern when dealing with the topic of how to prevent dehydration during pregnancy.
Fluids that are lost need to be replenished, this is especially true with the increased demands of pregnancy. Failure to replace lost fluids causes severe dehydration quickly during pregnancy. Understanding how to prevent dehydration during pregnancy is not always easy because of fluid losses due to vomiting and swelling. Swelling can actually account for liters of retained fluid.
Learning how to prevent dehydration during pregnancy is very important to avoid serious complications for you and your growing baby.
Complications From Dehydration During Pregnancy:
- Low amniotic fluid
- Birth defects
- Neural tube defects (Early in pregnancy)
- May impact your milk production
- Premature labor
Signs of Dehydration During Pregnancy
Aside from uterine contractions, the following are some other clinical signs of dehydration during pregnancy:
- Feeling thirsty
- Dry mouth
- A decrease in bathroom visits
- Dark colored urine
- Orthostatic hypotension (feeling dizzy when quickly getting out of bed)
10 tips to prevent dehydration during pregnancy
1. Drink more water.
Pregnant women need to drink 8-12 cups of water a day and maybe more in the summer. The good news is even if you can’t stand plain water, you still have TONS of options to be sure you are getting enough fluids.
2. If you can’t stand plain water, try a water infuser.
You can infuse your water with fresh fruits or pregnancy safe herbs. Try some of these recipes for variety:
- Naturally Flavored Water – The Yummy Life
- How to Make Infused Water + 6 Recipes – Eating Bird Food
- Fruit Water Recipes – Healthy Happy Smart
- Fruit Infused Coconut Water – Fuss-Free Cooking
Infused water is delicious and a healthy way to be sure you are staying hydrated during your pregnancy. I love this water infuser bottle: LA Organics Fruit Infuser Water bottle (BPA Free)
3. Drink juice, milk or sparkling water and broth
If you can’t stand the thought of drinking any more plain water, there are lots of other options! When it comes to juice you’ll want to exercise some restraint and caution. Many juices contain added sugar which could contribute to you gaining too much weight and increasing your risk of gestational diabetes.
You want to be sure your juice is pasteurized to avoid any type of bacteria that could harm you or your growing baby.
If you drink milk stick with low fat or non-fat varieties.
Drinking broth is a great option! Broth can also lessen nausea if you are in the “morning sickness” phase of pregnancy. Nausea and vomiting can cause you to become dehydrated so if you are feeling queasy sipping on broth can help.
4. Limit your caffeine intake
Caffeine consumption during pregnancy is controversial. Limit your intake caffeine to no more than 200mg a day. Caffeine can be found in beverages like coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and soda.
Caffeine can increase dehydration because it increases urine output. The last thing most pregnant women want is another trip to the bathroom, so limiting caffeine is a good plan.
5. Keep a filled insulated water bottle with you at all times.
This is the best way to prevent dehydration. “Out of sight is out of mind” as they say and it is much easier to stay hydrated when the water is right next to you. Fill your water bottle in the morning and again at lunch and you should be good to go. The two insulated water bottles we use and love most are the Hydro Flask (Amazon) and the Takeya Originals (Target)
Hydro Flask Insulated Water Bottle
6. Make sure your urine is clear to light yellow and negative for ketones
May seem a little gross, but its a good way to tell your level of dehydration. If your urine is dark in color you need to drink more water.
You should never try to diagnose yourself if you have concerns about dehydration or contractions. However, if you want to have a sense of whether you are preventing signs of dehydration based on an analysis of your urine, you can get urine ketone test strips HERE or at your local drugstore.
This is the same urine dipstick evaluation that will be done in the office. If the ketones are positive (purple) it is an indication you will want to drink more water.
*This information will be very familiar to those who have been to the office many times for dehydration. Again, it is important to stress that this information is not to be used to evaluate your medical condition if you have concerns about dehydration or contractions. Use of ketone test strips can be helpful to check when you have no concerns and want to see if you are drinking enough fluids.
7. Do not over-exert yourself
It can be easy to overdo it during pregnancy. Be cautious not to exercise too much, gentle exercise like walking and swimming is generally safe (clear with your provider first). Exercise causes us to lose fluid through sweat, so be sure to drink while exercising.
Avoid extreme heat. During the summer months try to do your house cleaning and errands earlier in the day to avoid the heat of the day. Overheating is a common sign of dehydration. If you are already struggling to drink enough and you are out in the heat, you are more prone to overheating.
8. Eat fruits and vegetable.
Eating fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to be sure you are getting enough fluids to avoid dehydration during pregnancy.
Fruits and vegetables good for hydration:
9. Ice pops, popsicles, and Pedialyte pops can help you increase your fluids.
This is especially true if your dehydration issues are related to morning sickness. It can be difficult during the first trimester to get enough fluids. You may have morning sickness, food aversions and may suffer from fatigue if you are not able to consume enough fluid.
Making your own popsicles is an excellent choice and very easy to do. Here are a couple of our favorite popsicle recipes many women use when thinking of how to prevent dehydration during pregnancy:
10. Avoid extreme heat and humidity.
Avoiding extreme heat and humidity is crucial to prevent dehydration and swelling during your pregnancy. Try to run errands and do any housekeeping chores early in the day.
Spend the heat of the afternoon resting if you can. Getting plenty of rest can reduce episodes of nausea and vomiting. This is particularly important to know when learning how to prevent dehydration during pregnancy.
Drinking Enough Water To Prevent Complications During Pregnancy
Dehydration is a common cause of contractions during pregnancy. Knowing how to prevent dehydration during pregnancy is very important. During the summer, pregnant women can become dehydrated rapidly resulting in many same-day office visits to evaluate symptoms of premature labor.
There is simply no way, without a clinical evaluation, to know if contractions causing premature labor. In addition, there is no way to predict whether contractions secondary to dehydration could bring on premature labor.
This is where it can be said that medicine is not an exact science. We all know the expression “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”…. perhaps this situation is more like: “an ounce of detection is worth a pound of cure”.
Typically, after one episode of contracting secondary to dehydration, expectant moms learn how to prevent dehydration during pregnancy to avoid pregnancy complications.
As one might expect, prevention in the future has to do with learning how to maintain adequate hydration to minimize recurrent uterine contractions.
The following is a common clinical situation during the hot summer months:
1. An expectant mom in her second or third trimester calls the office to report cramping that is becoming regular and strong. Often the cramping is described as a tightening that radiates around to her back.
The office triage nurse will ask questions about the cramping. Including questions about the patient’s latest physical activity, if the patient has a history of premature labor during a prior pregnancy, etc.. Regardless of the information acquired over the phone, the patient will then be told to come to the office for an evaluation.
2. The examination will include vital signs (blood pressure, pulse) as well the other clinical parameters that are checked at every prenatal visit: fetal heart rate, swelling assessment, weight gain, etc.. If contractions are confirmed with fetal monitoring, the office examination will include a cervical exam. Cervical dilation or change is the objective clinical finding necessary to evaluate and ultimately diagnose premature labor. This is based on the definition of labor: Uterine contractions associated with cervical change.
Two office tests used to help diagnose dehydration:
- Urine Dipstick – the urine is the best immediate laboratory indication of dehydration. By dipping the urine, ketones can be measured. Ketones are indicative of dehydration. On most urine dipsticks the darker the purple the more ketones in the urine. Urine dipsticks can also be used to measure specific gravity which is another indication of dehydration. Also as previously noted, urine associated with dehydration is darker because it is more concentrated.
- Uterine Monitoring – this is the same monitoring that is done in the hospital during labor. If contractions are present the monitor will indicate the interval between contractions and the duration of the contractions. If hydration is started in the office and dehydration is the cause of contractions, they often will resolve quickly. (Hydration will also clear ketones and urine will become light or clear in color.)
Other pregnancy posts you may find helpful:
- 9 Tips On How To Survive A Summer Pregnancy
- 10 Tips On How To Fight Fatigue During Pregnancy
- How To Prevent Swelling During Pregnancy