We’ve all that feeling before, of realising that there just isn’t enough water in our bodies. Dehydration is a serious problem, yet one that is so avoidable and preventable. There is a reason the message is slammed down our throats to drink at least 8 standard cups of water a day. There is a reason why we are constantly reminded to bring a water bottle with us everywhere we go. And there are plenty of reasons why we should be listening more closely to these messages.
Drinking enough water is fundamental to human life. So, when you’re raising a new human life in the womb, you really want to focus on that whole hydration situation. Just like adults are affected by dehydration, so too are a little babies still growing in the womb. Think about it - babies are floating around in a pool of water called the amniotic sac. Literally, water is the foundation to their existence inside that warm and cosy uterus.
So, in case you weren’t already thinking about refilling your glass of water right now, here are 15 ways that dehydration affects an unborn baby. Basically, 15 reasons to get that H2o in your body immediately (and do the same for the rest of the year, too)!
12 Less H2O Reaching The Baby
Obviously, if there is less water entering mom’s body, the growing baby is going to receive less water. The scary thing about this is that the dehydration affects the baby before it affects mom. This is because the water in the blood stream will swish around and spread itself out for both mom and bubs. But, if mom is in more need of water at a point before dehydration, there is less that is going to head towards the baby’s share.
So, it is literally selfish not to drink enough water during pregnancy. It is hard to think about the baby getting dehydrated in the womb, but it does happen and it does happen quicker than for you. The most important thing is to drink water before you feel thirsty. If you’re feeling thirsty, poor bubs is probably dehydrated!
11 The Amniotic Sac Can Dry Up
For the entire time of gestation, the growing baby floats around in a safe, cushioning protective bubble called the amniotic sac. This is a big old water bubble that keeps the baby safe in the womb. It is just one of the many layers of protection to make sure no harm comes to that baby while it is in utero.
Now, the amniotic sac is made up of 90% water, with some electrolytes, proteins, and carbohydrates also floating around in the mix. Given that the vast majority of this substance is water, it is pretty important to keep it hydrated. When you drink water when you’re pregnant, you are essentially refilling the amniotic sac and keeping it safe, hygienic, and nutritious for the baby. No water, that thing is going to dry up like a lake in desert! Not literally that quickly, but you get the idea!
10 It'll Dry Up Mom's Milk Supply
Water is the source of life and sustaining the life form, and one important thing that sustains a newborn baby’s life is breastmilk. Breastmilk production starts around the third trimester of pregnancy, getting the girls pumped up with the good stuff for when the baby comes out of the womb.
However, if a woman has experienced dehydration during her pregnancy, or experiences dehydration after giving birth, the breast milk production can be stunted. Obviously, this is not an ideal scenario. The breast milk continues to produce on a cycle basis, with the breasts ‘refilling’ until they are emptied. If there isn’t enough water getting into the body during these cycles, the milk won’t be produced at the right time, or with the right quality to keep the baby healthy.
9 It Welcomes Bladder Infections
If there is something that doesn’t sound appealing at all during pregnancy, it is a bladder infection. There is already so much chaos happening around the hoo-hah area and it really just doesn’t need any more pain going on down there. Bladder infections can be quite common during pregnancy, but they can also be avoided by downing the right amount of water each day (or even more, for safe keeping).
If things are dry when you need to pee, things are going to get sore. With pregnancy, you basically have a whole extra weight, that being the baby, leaning on the bladder. Therefore, there is more pressure on this region and more need to pee. Sometimes, you think you need to pee even when you don’t. If you are even slightly dehydrated, this feeling can put too much pressure on the bladder, leading to a potential infection.
8 Mom Can Go Into Preterm Labor
During the second and third trimester, a lack of proper water supply can trigger a premature labor. In fact, dehydration is one of the main things that get early contractions going. While it might sound appealing to get the little nugget out of the womb earlier on, it really isn’t the way to go. The baby needs all that time in the womb to be properly developed and grown enough to handle this crazy real world.
Therefore, it is really important to keep fluids up in the later trimester. It is easy to become dehydrated at this later points since the blood is circulating like crazy and making the body temperature rise. Therefore, you can become dehydrated without even knowing it. The key is to drink preventatively, not when you’re already thirsty.
7 Less Blood To Go Around
The blood flow during pregnancy is really important for a number of reasons. Mostly because it is getting all the vital nutrients circulating around both mom and bubs’ bodies. During pregnancy, there is an increased blood flow to make sure that both mom and bubs are getting their equal share of the good stuff.
However, dehydration causes the blood flow to reduce significantly. It makes the volume of blood lower and it makes the circulation take longer. Therefore, it is going to take longer to get around mom’s body and make its way to the baby, via the placenta. Dehydration also leads to an increase in the hormone oxytocin, which is responsible for the onset of contractions. This is how premature labor can start from dehydration in the later trimesters.
6 Mom Will Become More Tired
Just to add to the list of things that make an expectant mom tired during pregnancy, dehydration is officially on there. It is an obvious thing, really, that not having enough water in the body makes one feel more fatigued. We’ve all been there after a long hike, exercising, or just not drinking enough on a warm day. The tension headache and the fatigue is commonly associated with dehydration.
Yet, things are different when there is a baby inside the womb who is relying on expectant mom’s body to be up to scratch. Fatigue from dehydration makes things slow down around mom’s body, therefore not reaching its full potential to keep things going nicely for the baby inside. It takes longer to recover from dehydration fatigue when pregnant, because of all the other bodily changes going. Therefore, the best solution is really to prevent dehydration however you can!
5 Makes The Body Hotter
Even though dehydration makes the blood volume decrease and makes it circulate slower through the body, somehow dehydration still makes the body temperature hotter. This is ultimately because it reduces the ability to sweat. Sweating is the human body’s way of cooling down, bringing the internal temperature down with perspiration.
Now, during pregnancy there is inevitable weight gain and swelling all around the body which already makes you feel hotter. So the last thing you really want is additional heat or rising in the body temperature, just to make things even more uncomfortable. This is a good reason to keep the liquids up on a daily basis. It is especially true in the winter months, when you don’t feel hot, but the body temperature can be secretly soaring without enough water.
4 Can Make Mom Constipated
It is already a common side effect of pregnancy that the hours in the bathroom are going to be increased. This is mainly because of the baby using expectant mom’s bladder as a fun squeeze toy to be provoked on an hourly basis. However, without enough water in the body, it won’t be the bladder that gets the bathroom calling out.
A lack of water means that things get clogged up in the intestines and digestive tract. This leads to constipation, which is something that no pregnant women has the time for. In fact, something that no one has the time for regardless of pregnancy or not! The worst thing about constipation during pregnancy is that is puts more pressure on the baby’s living space. The cramping that comes with constipation causes the uterus and stomach to contract as well, tightening the area that the baby lives in. Not comfortable, mom!
3 Goes Hand In Hand With Morning Sickness
There is a vicious cycle with pregnancy that tends to happen most prominently in the first trimester. This is called morning sickness and many women have come to hate it with a burning passion. Basically, morning sickness causes nausea and vomiting, most commonly in the morning hours (although it can strike whenever it feels like).
After experiencing nausea or having a bout of vomiting in the toilet bowl to kick start your day, it is super important to drink water. But does the stomach want anything in there after what its just gone through? No! So morning sickness can make drinking water seem unappealing but it is the most important thing to do. Sometimes, you just have to force down some water (perhaps with a shot of electrolyte supplements in there) to prevent dehydration.
2 Can Hinder Baby’s Growth
This point comes back to the importance of the amniotic fluid and keeping the water levels in their topped up. Now, this is something only occurs with serious dehydration, which is why they don’t recommend hiking up desert sand dunes at any stage of pregnancy.
Basically, if serious dehydration occurs and the amniotic sac ‘empties’ so to speak, the baby’s growth can be affected. This is particularly relevant for the first trimester, again in cases of extreme dehydration. Without the right balance of waters in the amniotic sac, the legs and arms can grow with deformities. Just remember, this won’t happen if you only get 6 glasses of water instead of 8 one day through the week as it is more in extreme cases of prolonged dehydration. But dehydration is serious business regardless.
1 Makes The Baby’s Sac ‘Stiff’
Coming back to the all important amniotic sac, this seemingly small thing has the biggest impact on the baby’s life. And obviously, water is the essential element to keeping this sac healthy and functioning for the baby’s sake. Not only does the amniotic sac ‘dry up’ and not refill without enough water entering mom’s body, but the texture of it also changes.
Essentially, to preserve the remaining water inside, the amniotic sac goes into preservation mode when dehydration hits mom’s body. This means that it shrivels up slightly and actually becomes stiffer around the baby. This isn’t painting a pretty image, simply because it isn’t pretty, but it is a good reminder to keep drinking the required amount of water through the day. Nobody, and no baby, wants a stiff amniotic sac!
Sources: Americanpregnancy.org, Tummywear.org, Babble.com, Livestrong.com, Momjunction.com