Staying well-hydrated is important for everyone since our bodies are made of 50-65 percent water for the average adult, and 75-78 percent for babies. During pregnancy, women have the tendency to become more dehydrated at a faster rate than normal. When you are pregnant, your body uses more water to aid in the development of the baby, such as forming the placenta and the amniotic sac (see more on this below).
When you are pregnant, your body goes through many physical changes. The body also goes through chemical changes due to hormones. These hormonal changes send signals to the brain, such as what the body needs for the baby developing inside you. This includes water intake.
There are many different things that can cause dehydration, but for pregnant women, there are some specific reasons. So, if you are expecting, and you suddenly have a powerful thirst, here are some reasons why.
7 Morning Sickness
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it is surprising how often we forget to replenish our bodies with water when we have been sick. Morning sickness affects women in the early stages of pregnancy, and it can be horrible for some women. Vomiting and intense nausea are just a couple of symptoms; there is also increased sweating and more frequent urination.
It’s important to drink water or other fluids to stay hydrated while suffering from morning sickness. If you have morning sickness that lasts for several weeks, it is probably best to carry a water bottle wherever you go and keep it beside your bed at night.
Some women can even get hyperemesis, an extreme form of morning sickness. With this condition, the vomiting and nausea are so bad, you cannot keep food down. All of this can make you extremely dehydrated.
It’s not only important for you to drink more water while going through morning sickness, it is crucial for the baby developing inside you. The early stages of pregnancy are some of the most important times in your baby’s development.
6 Development of the Placenta and the Amniotic Sac
The developing placenta and amniotic sac can be the main cause of increased dehydration. We may not consider this when we are pregnant, but it makes perfect sense. The placenta is an organ that develops in order to keep your own blood supply separate from your unborn baby’s blood supply. Water is the main source that flows through the placenta. It delivers the much-needed nutrients that are travelling through your blood into the blood of your baby. Because of this function, the placenta needs a lot more water to flow through to provide the appropriate nutrition for proper development and growth.
Along with the placenta, the amniotic sac has an important function and needs more water intake. The amniotic sac develops around the baby in the uterus and holds the amniotic fluid which helps cushion the baby as it develops in the womb. Especially in the early stages, it’s important to stay hydrated for this amniotic sac to form properly.
5 Hormones and Maternal Overheating
When a woman is pregnant, her body temperature rises due to the body’s increased hormonal fluctuations, and more blood cells being created. An expecting mom need to stay on top of her overheating body because it can have developmental repercussions on her fetus. Such developmental issues include the development of a cleft lip and palate in the fetus, as well as neural tube defects. This is a malformation that occurs when the neural tube does not close.
Drinking lots of water is the best way to keep hydrated and to reduce maternal overheating. It is also helpful that pregnant women minimize the amount of physical activity they are doing in the first trimester, so they aren’t increasing their body heat or sweating out the fluids they need for the healthy development of the baby. Other ways to reduce maternal overheating is to eat less spicy food. If you exercise, make sure you’re in a cool environment; this means no hot yoga.
4 Airplane Travel
In general, most people feel more parched than usual when on an airplane. This is why it is important for pregnant women to stay hydrated while flying. Because of the regulated cabin pressure on an airplane, there can be very little moisture. That is why you will tend to feel more dehydrated.
Because of the airline restrictions, you are not allowed to bring your own water bottle on board, so make sure you bring a large empty water bottle. After you pass through security, you can fill it up at a water fountain. Also, it might be helpful to alert a flight attendant that you are pregnant as you may need some additional rounds of beverage service.
Many jobs require travel. If you’re a frequent flyer who is pregnant, talk to your doctor before flying. Some women have different effects on their bodies when they are pregnant that will make it more difficult or dangerous to fly. Flying for pregnant women can also be of concern because of the air pressure in the airplane cabins. Many doctors recommend compression socks in order to keep your blood circulation in check.
3 Hot Showers or Baths
Some people like cooler shower temperatures and some people like really hot shower temperatures. If you are pregnant and prefer the latter, you might need to cool it down a bit. It may seem like a small thing, but hot water can make dehydration much worse. Because your body is already warm due to maternal overheating, taking a hot shower while pregnant will only cause you to overheat more.
This doesn’t mean you need to take an ice bath, but try a slightly cooler temperature. If you hate tepid water and need a hot shower, make it a fast one. Remember to drink lots of water afterwards. Along with hot showers, avoid saunas and steam rooms when you are pregnant as these are even worse than hot showers for making you more dehydrated.
2 Tight Fitting Clothing
Pregnancy can be a stressful time. Not only are getting ready to give birth and welcome a baby into the world, but your body is changing. Gaining baby weight can be tough to deal with mentally. In the first trimester, most women can still wear their usual clothes because they haven’t started to “show.” But, some of your usual tight clothes, such as leggings or tank tops, can actually make you overheat, which in turn will make you more dehydrated. As you hit the second trimester, you may still be able to wear some of your tight dresses or pants and look great, but inside, it is not helping you or your baby.
There are lots of great choices for maternity clothes, so try to find pieces that can be mixed and matched easily. Good quality maternity clothes are made with materials that offer breath-ability. They are also a bit looser, but in a fashionable way. Wrap dresses are a great choice. They adjust to fit your size, and they are comfortable all in the right places while accentuating your natural figure. Wearing roomy clothes that breathe will help stave off dehydration.
1 Tea and Coffee
Caffeine has been a much-debated topic for pregnant women. Doctors are constantly asked by their newly-pregnant patients if they need to cut their caffeine addiction. From one coffee statistics source, women in the United States drink an average of 1.6 cups of coffee per day. So, it’s hard for women to just kick caffeine to the curb once they become pregnant. Most doctors will suggest to their patients to lower their consumption of caffeine, whether it is in the form of tea or coffee, because it is a diuretic. When you are pregnant, you don’t need to create more ways to increase dehydration.
While some women cut out coffee completely, they still might suffer from dehydration because they have substituted their coffee with tea. Even though you aren’t drinking coffee, many of the teas out there have a lot, and sometimes more caffeine than coffee. The teas with the most caffeine are green teas and English breakfast teas (i.e. Earl Grey and Orange Pekoe).
Dehydration is a common side effect for many women, but when you are pregnant it can become a huge health risk for your baby, especially in the first trimester when they are developing the most. If you are one of those people that have a hard time staying hydrated and drinking plain water, try mixing water with fruit juices. Or, use a bottle that infuses fruit flavors into your water, such as lemon, lime, or orange. These small changes can prevent dehydration during your pregnancy.