Staying well hydrated during pregnancy is extremely important. Your body depends on and uses water for survival. Water plays a crucial role in the development of a healthy pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body uses water to form the amniotic fluid, form your placenta, increase your blood volume and carry nutrients to your growing baby. Therefore, avoiding dehydration during pregnancy is very important.
Dehydration occurs when your body uses water faster than you are taking it in. Fluids that are lost need to be replenished, this is especially true with the increased demands of pregnancy. Failure to replace lost fluids can cause you to become dehydrated.
This is very concerning during pregnancy and can cause very 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
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 that leads you to not 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:
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 which can cause dehydration during pregnancy.
How Dehydration During Pregnancy Can Cause Contractions and Potentially Premature Labor
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 rule out premature labor.
There is simply no way to be sure the contractions are not indicative of 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 become more equipped with ways to avoid this problem in the future.
As one might expect prevention in the future has to do with how to maintain adequate hydration to minimize recurrent uterine contractions.
Very common scenario seen in an obstetric practice during the hot summer months:
1. Initially, an expectant mom in her second or third trimester will call the office reporting cramping that is becoming regular and strong. Often described as a tightening that radiates around to the back.
The office triage nurse will ask some questions to assess the cause. This will include 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 history obtained over the phone, the patient will be told to come to the office for an evaluation.
2. The examination at the same-day office visit will include vital signs (blood pressure, pulse) as well as all the other health parameters that are checked at every prenatal visit: fetal heart rate, swelling assessment, weight gain, etc.. If contractions are confirmed, the physical exam will include a cervical exam.
Two objective tests will be done in the office after the physical exam is completed:
- 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
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