Dehydration During Pregnancy

Dehydration can be serious at any time, but dehydration during pregnancy is an especially worrisome condition. When people become dehydrated, they are effectively losing nearly two percent of their body's water content. Though that might not sound like much, it is enough to make someone very sick, dizzy, confused and weak. Dehydration can quickly develop into a very serious condition. Dehydration during pregnancy not only makes the woman sick, but can also seriously affect her unborn child.

Risks of Dehydration During Pregnancy

It is important to remember that a pregnant woman requires much more water each day than the average person does. This is because the baby needs water too – and all the processes that go into creating that new little person take up a great deal of hydration as well. That's why dehydration during pregnancy is a serious problem. Here's what could happen if a pregnant woman is dehydrated:

1.  Effect on the Mother

Many mothers could find themselves without enough breast milk for their baby. This is due to the lack of water in the body, which makes it tough to create anything to give to your child. Dehydration during pregnancy can also lead to severe morning sickness, an increase in body temperature, heat exhaustion, muscle cramps, urinary tract infections, and even early labor or increased Braxton Hicks contractions that the mother-to-be will experience.

2.  Effect on the Baby

The baby is well-cushioned by a sac filled with amniotic fluid, but dehydration during pregnancy can make that fluid be greatly reduced. This can make it more difficult for the baby to grow and might result in complications, such as birth defects, miscarriage, cord compression or preterm labor.

3.  Premature Birth

Dehydration can lead to an irritable uterus, which means contractions are much more painful. It can also trigger contractions due to more concentrated blood volume, which then leads to a buildup of oxytocin, which is a hormone that helps trigger contractions. If all of this happens too early, the baby is at a higher risk of premature birth.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration During Pregnancy

Are you dehydrated? Below are the most common signs and symptoms of dehydration. If you are experiencing any of them, it is the time to drink more water.

  • Being incredibly thirsty – the first and most common sign of all
  • Dizziness or headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry nose, dry mouth and chapped lips
  • Skin that is very dry to touch
  • Urine that has a very strong odor, or that is concentrated into a dark yellow or orange
  • The inability to urinate, or urinating much less than usual
  • Feeling weak, even when not doing any physical activity

Treating Dehydration During Pregnancy

If you are suffering from dehydration, the easiest and first remedy is always simple: drink more water. Your body needs a great deal of water to overcome the dehydration and get back to a normal level of water in the body, so drink as much water as you can to alleviate the thirst. If you are feeling nausea due to the dehydration and water is tough to keep down, you can turn to non-herbal teas or fruit juices until you feel better, then switch to water and continue drinking.

If the dehydration is very severe, you can't keep water down, or you are suffering from significant symptoms of dehydration that make it tough to treat yourself, it's time to get to the doctor or emergency room. Some severe cases of dehydration might require intravenous fluids to help replace the electrolytes lost during the dehydration crisis.

Preventing Dehydration During Pregnancy

The best solution for this problem is to avoid it in the first place. These tips can help you ensure that you do not become dehydrated.

  • Drink continuously throughout the day. Sip on a bit of water every few minutes. In fact, carry a water bottle everywhere you go and try to drink one cup of it every hour.
  • If plain water doesn't taste good to you, turn to flavorings that include pure juice, such as squeezed lemon, lime or cucumber.
  • Remember that all liquids count, so have a cup of soup with lunch, or turn to a smoothie for breakfast.
  • Avoid strenuous exercises that cause you to lose a great deal of water. When you do exercise, drink plenty of water to replace that you are losing.
  • Try not to drink caffeinated drinks, as this actually makes you more dehydrated in the long run.

Finally, remember that if serious dehydration during pregnancy is becoming a problem, speaking to your doctor for solutions will keep you and your baby healthy. 

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