- How much water does the baby need?
- What are the complications of dehydration during pregnancy?
- Should my water intake change as the pregnancy progresses?
- How can an expectant Mom increase her water intake?
Water serves an important function during pregnancy to help keep the growing life inside the mother healthy; but how much water should pregnant women drink? Why is water, which is so important to all living creatures, especially vital for pregnant women?
How Much Water Does the Baby Need?
The Institute of Medicine suggests women should consume 10 eight-ounce glasses of water each day during their pregnancy. If you’re breastfeeding, bump that number up to 12 cups a day.
While that probably seems like a lot of water, it’s not too much more than the average intake suggested for non-pregnant women, which is nine glasses a day. Pregnant women should up their water intake because it helps with:
- Formation of amniotic fluid and the placenta
- Creating more blood and building new tissues
- Carrying nutrients around the body
- Improving digestion
- Flushing out waste and toxins
Drinking more water during pregnancy is good for both Mom and the baby. Water keeps the internal body systems functioning smoothly, from flushing your kidneys and lowering the chances of a urinary tract infection to softening your stool and making bowel movements easier.
Water helps transport vital nutrients to the baby and even helps with fetal kidney function. Consistent hydration during pregnancy will help both the Mom and baby feel better, too. Dehydration is no joke during pregnancy and it should be avoided. Dehydration means that you’re losing more water than you are consuming.
Should My Water Intake Change as the Pregnancy Progresses?
Your water needs do change slightly during each stage of the pregnancy, according to Healthline Parenthood. Here are some examples:
- First trimester (weeks 1-12)—Many new Moms find keeping anything down in the first trimester is hard, but water can help settle your stomach as you nibble some salty crackers. It’s important to get on track early to make water a regular part of your pregnancy healthy dietary habits.
- Second trimester (weeks 13-26)—Women should increase their calories by about 340 a day during this time. They should also add more water during this time, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Their guidelines suggest adding 1-1.5 mL of water for each calorie consumed.
- Third trimester (weeks 26 through the end of pregnancy)—Again your calorie intake should increase by 450 above the normal recommendation, and your water intake should go up a little, too.
What are Complications of Dehydration During Pregnancy?
Dehydration can make you uncomfortable even when you’re not pregnant. But the complications during pregnancy can be serious.
If you’re getting in your 10 glasses of water a day, visiting the restroom frequency, and your urine is pale yellow, you are on track. But the signs you’re dehydrated include:
- Thirst and/or hunger
- Dizziness or “foggy brain”
- Dry skin
- No energy or sluggishness
- Dark or concentrated urine
These are all signs you need to increase your hydration immediately. Failing to stay hydrated during pregnancy can do more than give you a headache. It can also cause serious complications such as:
- Low amniotic fluid
- Inadequate breast milk
- Kidney stones
- Birth defects
- Urinary tract infections
- Preterm labor and preterm birth
How Can an Expectant Mom Increase Her Water Intake?
If you’re considering pregnancy you may look at the idea of 10 eight-ounce glasses of water a day like an insurmountable mountain you must climb. But we have some tricks for making sure you stay hydrated during the pregnancy.
First, it’s a good idea to avoid caffeine when you’re pregnant because it adds to dehydration. If it’s summer and hot out, you can decrease the amount of fluid you’re losing by staying as cool as possible. If you’re exercising, drink plenty of refreshing and replenishing fluids.
To track your water intake, get several large reusable water bottles for around the home. You can make a chart for your fridge if you’d like to track your water consumption, especially at first, so you can make fluid consumption a healthy habit. If you’re struggling with nausea, small amounts of flavored water may even help settle your stomach.
An expectant mother can also get those extra fluids in several ways:
- Good old tap water is generally safe, but if you live in an older home with lead pipes, you may want to get your water tested.
- You can add lemons or berries to drinking water to spice it up a little.
- Try a large chilled infuser pitcher with water and your favorite fresh fruit.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables with high water content such as watermelon, muskmelon, grapes, celery, cucumber, zucchini, and iceberg lettuce.
- Try seltzer or carbonated flavored waters, particularly during the first trimester to potentially help lessen nausea. Make sure these don’t have added sugars. Also, be careful with mineral water which can be high in sodium.
- Milk, juices, tea, and soup all contain plenty of water. If you’re drinking herbal teas, run the ingredients past your doctor to make sure they’re okay.
- Start your day with a fresh-made vegetable and fruit smoothie. Don’t overdo it; they hold a lot of natural sugars.
If you feel like you’re struggling to get in the habit of increasing your water intake, or you need help planning healthy meals, consider talking with your doctor about a nutrition plan that’s right for you and your baby. Proper hydration combined with prenatal vitamins, exercise, and regular visits with a physician, can keep an expectant mother’s prenatal care on course.