If you were lost on a desert island, you would probably die from dehydration before you died of starvation. This is surprising for many people, since we all know how hungry we can get when we accidentally skip even one or two meals. The symptoms of dehydration are harder to pinpoint, but it’s extremely important that you get enough water every day. If hydration is so vital to our wellbeing on a regular basis, imagine the importance of it during pregnancy.
Women who are pregnant should be diligent in staying hydrated for the duration of their gestation. It is easier to become dehydrated when you are pregnant. For one thing, you are probably experiencing more nausea and vomiting than you ever have. Morning sickness is common, and every time you lose your lunch, you could become seriously dehydrated. The worst part is that you won’t have the desire to drink fluids after you’re sick, so the problem is not always remedied.
I recommend to my patients that they should drink, at least, two quarts of pure water per day. Not soda, not tea, not coffee, but good old-fashioned water. In the summer months, that amount should increase by a quart in order to compensate for the increase in perspiration and insensible loss. With the recommended quart of skimmed milk per day, I really don’t understand why there is a need for any more fluids in the form of soft drinks, etc. Becoming dehydrated during your pregnancy, even temporarily, puts your baby at risk for serious complications. When a pregnant women is dehydrated, that fluid restriction is thought to decrease the production of amniotic fluid in your womb. Particularly, in the second or third trimesters, dehydration can lead to premature labor because it triggers the same hormone that causes uterine contractions (oxytocin), not to mention the typical pains of dehydration such as headaches and muscle cramping.
The best way to prevent dehydration during your pregnancy is to drink more than enough water and stay out of the extreme heat and direct sunlight. If you experience symptoms such as dark urine, infrequent urination, headaches, dry mouth, chapped lips, and dry skin, contact your doctor immediately. It might be too late for water to solve the problem, and hospitalization might be required.
In a perfect world, we could all relax during our pregnancy and focus only on our health. Unfortunately, we are all busy people and our daily lives are often full of other concerns. If you find it difficult to keep track of how much water you’re drinking, consider keeping a log to make sure you’re always getting enough. Dehydration can be serious, so make sure avoiding it becomes one of your top priorities.
- Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H.