Dehydration in pregnancy isn’t just a case of being thirsty. When a woman suffers from dehydration in pregnancy, it means her body is losing water faster than she can take it in. It can turn dangerous quickly.
When you’re pregnant water is more important than ever because it helps to form the placenta. The placenta is the nutrient powerhouse for your baby as he grows inside of you, so if you aren’t getting enough water, the consequences can be severe. Water also helps to form the amniotic sac later in pregnancy.
Not supporting this adequately can also pose serious problems. That’s why it’s important to not only recognize the signs of dehydration in pregnancy and its side effects but also how to avoid it in the first place.
Causes of dehydration in pregnancy
The origins of dehydration in pregnancy are pretty straightforward. You get dehydrated when you don’t drink enough water. Your body needs enough water when you’re pregnant to not only help you function properly but also to keep your unborn baby healthy.
Besides just not drinking enough water, dehydration in pregnancy can also happen when a pregnant woman spends too much time in the heat, or her body begins to overheat from too much activity. Sometimes you may think you’re in the clear but then you may start to feel extremely hot. This can be an indicator that you’re becoming dehydrated.
Since many women experience morning sickness in their first trimester, dehydration in early pregnancy is sometimes attributed to morning sickness as well. Vomiting repeatedly can cause you to lose liquids and become dehydrated. Other common causes include diarrhea and fever.
Is dehydration in pregnancy normal?
Yes. When you take into account all of the various causes, it is not uncommon for a woman to become dehydrated while pregnant.
Signs of dehydration in pregnancy
If you are dehydrated, your body will give you little signs to let you know you need to start drinking more water. According to the American Pregnancy Association, one of the leading symptoms you’ll notice will be in the color of your urine. If you are dehydrated, your urine will be dark yellow instead of a more transparent color. It may also have a strong odor associated with it. As soon as you notice this, starting drinking more water! Other symptoms include:
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- Dry skin & mouth
- Swollen tongue
- Dry lips
If you start experiencing any of those symptoms, start drinking water and rest. It’s also a good idea to call your doctor and explain what’s going on. He or she may want to have you in for a check-up just to make sure you and baby are okay.
There are also severe symptoms of dehydration. The following symptoms could signal when to go the hospital because you need immediate medical attention:
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- Little or no urine
- Very dark urine
- Sunken eyes
- Rapid heartbeat and breathing
- Low blood pressure
- Dry or shriveled up skin
If something doesn’t feel right, never underestimate your intuition. Seek medical attention right away.
Dangers of dehydration in pregnancy
Being dehydrated when you’re pregnant can present threats to both you and your unborn baby. According to the American Pregnancy Association, when you are dehydrated, you run the risk of having low not only amniotic fluid but also neural tube defects. You are also at risk of going into premature labor.
Low amniotic fluid can affect a baby’s growth because he’s not getting the nutrients he needs. When a baby does not get enough amniotic fluid, he may also lie against the uterus because there is not enough water to float around. This can lead to congenital disabilities like deformed hands and feet.
Dehydration can also lead to Braxton-Hicks contractions. This is when your uterus tightens. Although they only last a minute or two, Braxton-Hicks contractions can be excruciating and can mimic real contractions.
If you start having these frequently, think about how much water you’re drinking because it could be a sign that you’re dehydrated. Some women do go into premature labor when they are dehydrated because the blood volume decreases which increases the oxytocin level, the hormone that is responsible for contractions.
When a woman is dehydrated during pregnancy, the amount and quality of breast milk can also be affected. Since the body is not getting enough fluids, it is more difficult to produce milk.
Since dehydration does raise the body temperature, there is also a risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion as well as muscle cramps and urinary tract infections. When you are severely dehydrated during pregnancy, you may need to go to the hospital to get IV administered fluids.
How to avoid dehydration during pregnancy
If you want to avoid that trip to the hospital, it’s pretty simple… you need to drink enough liquids when you’re pregnant. This is the most advised of all pregnancy dehydration remedies.
How much is enough? When you’re pregnant, it’s recommended you drink 10 glasses of liquid a day. Water is the recommended beverage, but you could also get your daily dosage of milk, vegetable juice, or other drinks your doctor recommends. Don’t drink of all of those liquids at once because you’ll put unnecessary pressure on your kidneys. Instead, you should stretch it out throughout the day.
If you are in a hot climate or are doing some sort of strenuous activity (which you should be careful of doing in the first place), then you need to drink even more liquids.
You can avoid dehydration by also avoiding activities that can make you overheat. Be smart and if you start to feel too hot, stop doing that activity, drink water, and rest.
Avoid drinks like teas and coffee that contain caffeine. Beverages containing caffeine can increase how much urine you put out leading to dehydration.
If you are experiencing morning sickness, try to drink liquids when you don’t feel like you’re going to vomit. This will help prevent you from becoming dehydrated when you do get sick.
Many women say it’s hard to drink a lot of liquids throughout the day. That’s why it’s a good idea to always carry a water bottle with you when you’re pregnant. This way you can sip throughout the day wherever you are to avoid dehydration in pregnancy…no excuses!
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