Dehydration in Pregnancy -
not a good combination

Hydration in Pregnancy

Many women experience dehydration in pregnancy... are you one of them? I know I was. It is difficult for even the most dedicated woman to keep up with the increased water needs of the baby, especially with having a decreased bladder volume. Since mom needs 8-10 glasses per day, and the amniotic fluid bathing the baby is replaced every hour, that adds up to a lot of water - about 20 glasses per day. I don't know too many people that do that... I was only able to do about 16. But the fact of the matter is that many women don't even get 8-10 glasses per day, and this leads to problems.

Symptoms of Dehydration
in Pregnancy

Nausea - One of the earliest and most commonly missed symptoms of dehydration. Dr. Batmanghelidj, author of Your Body's Many Cries for Water states that morning sickness is the baby's signal that it needs more water. If drinking water is making you nauseous, it could be that you don't have enough salt (see Treatment of Dehydration for more info.) Usually, I have no problem drinking water, but during pregnancy, if I had trouble drinking more water, a pinch of salt usually took care of the problem.

Heartburn - Caused by not having enough water to create a protective mucus layer in the stomach, and a buffer solution in the gut to be empty your food in a timely fashion. Since it can't empty, it sits there and rots, and creates acids which come back up your esophagus. I had terrible heartburn during my first pregnancy. It was so bad that I had to prop the whole bed up to be able to lie down. After reading Your Body's Many Cries for Water, I increased my water intake, and had very little heartburn during my last pregnancy.

Fatigue and Dizziness - Frequently caused by decreased blood volume due to dehydration. Another common cause is low blood sugar, which should be remedied by eating many small protein containing meals though out the day.

Muscle Pain and Cramps - Again, the most common cause of muscle cramps and pain is dehydration. The other common causes are not enough potassium, sodium, magnesium, or calcium.

Headache - A common occurrence during pregnancy, often due to unintentional dehydration. See Dehydration Headache for more complete information.

Urine: Dark yellow, strong smelling, and/or decreased output - If you notice that your urine has become darker, or you are going to the bathroom less frequently, you should drink water immediately to avoid the other symptoms and problems of dehydration.

Risks of Dehydration in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Dehydration in Pregnancy

Besides the normal problems created by dehydration (see Dehydration Effects ), there are a few risks associated only with pregnancy.

Decreased Amniotic Fluid - Dehydration can decrease the amount of fluid that cushions the baby inside the uterus. During the early months, this can result in compression of the fetal organs resulting in birth defects, and an increased risk of miscarriage. In the later months, it can result in growth restriction of the baby and preterm labor. Labor complications include cord compression, meconium staining, and increased chances of cesarean delivery.

Preterm Labor - Dehydration decreases blood volume which concentrates oxytocin (the hormone responsible for contractions) resulting in uterine contractions, and sometimes preterm labor. This can sometimes be halted with rehydration. Dehydration also makes muscles more irritable resulting in more painful contractions.

Breastfeeding problems - Many women have trouble making enough milk. Very commonly, this is due to dehydration and/or not enough protein intake. Less commonly, it can be due to other illnesses, especially thyroid problem. I noticed a direct correlation between my water and protein intake, and my ability to make enough milk for the next day or two for my baby.

Check out Chronic Dehydration for a list of conditions that can be caused by chronic unintentional dehydration.

Treatment of Dehydration

In pregnancy, there is an increased requirement for water, which may be somewhere between 14 and 20 glasses per day. Use your urine output as a guide... you should be eliminating about every hour or two, and the color should be clear to light yellow. Visit Treatment of Dehydration for more complete information.

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