Dehydration during pregnancy
Dehydration can be problematic any time, but it’s especially concerning during pregnancy. Not only do you need more water than usual when you’re pregnant, but your baby needs water too. Water is essential to life. It plays a critical part in healthy fetal development. That means staying properly hydrated is a must.
Here are the symptoms of dehydration during pregnancy and how you can stay safe.
What causes dehydration?
Dehydration is the result of your body losing water more quickly than you can take it and other fluids in. The result is that your body can struggle to go about its normal functions. If you don’t replace the lost fluids, you become dehydrated.
During pregnancy, this is especially worrisome. Water is used to form the placenta, which passes nutrients to your growing baby. It’s also used in the amniotic sac. Dehydration during pregnancy can result in very serious complications, including:
neural tube defects
low amniotic fluid
poor production of breast milk
Your body is using water in greater amounts during your pregnancy. Dehydration is automatically a concern if you aren’t taking care to replace lost fluids.
If you’re dealing with morning sickness that makes it difficult to keep anything down, dehydration becomes even more likely. Vomiting can lead to a lack of fluids and electrolytes, plus the loss of stomach acid.
As you move further into your pregnancy, overheating can also become an issue, which is another precursor to dehydration. Other common causes of dehydration include:
vigorous exercise, particularly if the weather is warm
not drinking enough water
What are signs of dehydration during pregnancy?
When you become dehydrated, your body begins exhibiting certain signs. It’s important that you’re able to recognize them.
Maternal overheating can be a common sign of dehydration. If you aren’t drinking enough water, your body may have trouble regulating heat. This makes you prone to overheating.
Dark yellow urine is another cautionary sign. Clear urine means you are hydrating well.
Mild to moderate dehydration can also cause these symptoms:
dry, sticky mouth
decreased need to urinate
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, drink water, and rest if you can. It’s also a good idea to call your doctor and explain what you’re feeling.
During pregnancy, dehydration can also trigger Braxton-Hicks contractions. These are a tightening of the uterus that usually only lasts a minute or two. These practice contractions are most common in the third trimester, but you may feel them in the second trimester, too. If you’re noticing a lot of these kinds of contractions, it can be a sign that you aren’t properly hydrating.
Mild and even moderate dehydration can usually be managed and reversed by drinking water. But severe dehydration, especially during pregnancy, needs immediate medical attention.
Symptoms of severe dehydration include:
excessively dry mouth, skin, and mucous membranes
irritability and confusion
little or no urine
very dark urine
rapid heartbeat and breathing
low blood pressure
Also watch your skin. You may be dehydrated if your skin is dry and shriveled, lacking in elasticity, or if it’s pinched into a fold and doesn’t “bounce” back.
If any of these symptoms are present, you need medical care right away.
How to prevent dehydration during pregnancy
Preventing dehydration doesn’t have to be difficult. The best way to stay properly hydrated during your pregnancy and after is to drink plenty of water every day. Try to get at least eight to 12 glasses daily.
If you’re experiencing indigestion, try to drink your fluids between meals instead of drinking as you eat, which can make indigestion worse.