Dehydration during pregnancy is a serious issue. While most people suffer from mild dehydration during their lives, pregnancy requires you to be in impeccable health for the sake of you and your baby.
And there are several signs that you may be dehydrated:
- Dry mouth / throat.
- Headaches (mild and intense)
- Dark colored urine.
- Lack of urination.
As every pregnant woman knows, these symptoms are often experienced during pregnancy. There are several times when a woman will experience the above symptoms, but when one or more of the symptoms are experienced together, there is a good chance of dehydration.
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Why Does Dehydration During Pregnancy Occur?
You may be used to drinking 8 cups of water per day, but your body has changed. Your little one is growing inside of you every day, and your body demands higher quantities of water to be able to sustain appropriate hydration levels.
When you’re pregnant, your body will start to:
- Produce extra quantities of blood.
- Produce amniotic fluid.
A woman’s body will also begin to produce other liquids. What happens is that your body will be under increased demand for hydration, and if you don’t drink more than your current daily intake, there is a good chance that you can become dehydrated.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
Interestingly, you’ll still want to maintain the daily recommended 8, 8-ounce drinks per day. This comes out to 64-ounces of fluid intake daily. You want to aim for this number at a minimum, and you also need to account for light activity.
If you are a woman that does yoga or other exercises while pregnant, you’ll need to account for water loss.
A good rule of thumb is:
- Drink one additional cup of water for every hour of light activity.
What you need to remember is that the 8-cup rule is just a guideline. You may be required to drink even more water, and this will vary from one person to another. Most doctors recommend looking at the color of your urine and using this color as an indicator for dehydration. You want to ensure that your urine is not dark.
It is acceptable for urine to be a light yellow color or even clear, but if it is dark yellow or even has a tint of orange, you are dehydrated. This is a time when you’ll want to start drinking an extra cup of water and monitoring the color of your urine. If you have increased your fluid intake, your urine color should change.
In the event that your urine color remains very dark, you may want to consult with your physician.
If you’re the type of person that can go hours without drinking, you may want to start a food and water log. Logging your water consumption can be done on a calendar, in a journal or on an app. The goal is to keep track of your fluid intake so that you never have to worry about dehydration.
Another trick is to drink a cup of water before and after a meal. When you drink water before and after a meal, you’ll find that you can go to the bathroom easier (goodbye constipation), and that you’ll be consuming 6 cups of water with ease. It’s a great way for mothers-to-be to get the extra water they need to remain hydrated.
When to Seek Medical Attention Due to Dehydration During Pregnancy
Dehydration, when it is not severe, can normally be dealt with at home without doctor intervention. Of course, if you have a high risk pregnancy, it is always important to remain diligent and consult with your doctor for any abnormal symptoms you may be having.
If you have the following symptoms, it’s important that you consult with a doctor immediately:
- Weak pulse.
- Blood in your stool.
- Rapid heartbeat (with no apparent cause)
- Not urinating for 8+ hours.
There is also a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum which some pregnant women will suffer from. This condition should be followed by an immediate visit with a medical professional. This condition is classified as continual or persistent vomiting – and it is scary.
It’s not uncommon for morning sickness to cause a woman to vomit, but this condition is more severe.
Remember, if you are vomiting often, you need to boost your water intake and contact your doctor immediately. Women that are over the age of 35 are also at a higher risk of premature birth if they have severe vomiting.
Severe Dehydration Treatment
In the event that you are severely dehydrated, you may need immediate medical attention. Severe dehydration comes from vomiting, lack of water consumption and various other causes. This is the level of dehydration that can cause you to faint or not urinate for half a day or more.
During extreme bouts of dehydration, you’ll need to seek medical attention. Your doctor may require that you stay in the hospital until you are properly hydrated. And a battery of tests may be conducted so that the doctor can pinpoint the cause of dehydration. You may have a stomach virus or another underlying issue that is causing you to expel more water than you consume. The underlying issue will need to be treated.
Severe dehydration will require you to be:
- Put on an IV.
- Given electrolytes.
An IV will provide your body with immediate hydration at a speed that drinking water cannot offer.
Complications Caused by Dehydration During Pregnancy
There are times when rather severe complications can occur due to dehydration. Complications can include:
- Urinary tract infections occur more often if a woman is dehydrated.
- Low amniotic fluid has been studied in relationship to dehydration. Studies found a direct correlation between dehydration and a lowering of amniotic fluids.
- Braxton Hicks contractions can occur. It’s important to drink more water if these contractions occur because it will ease the pain away.
Unless you allow your body to go into severe dehydration, your unborn baby should not have any long-lasting side effects due to dehydration.
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