3 important things you need to know about hydration during pregnancy
It is common knowledge that the right nutrition is the key to a healthy pregnancy. But what pregnant women often forget is adequate hydration is just as important.
As a mother-to-be, it is essential now more than ever to stay hydrated. Remember, you are not only drinking for yourself, but also for your little one. Here’s all you need to know about why fluids are so important during pregnancy and what kind of fluids to consume:
1. Why are fluids important during pregnancy?
Hydration is the key to good health as all our body functions require water. Your body is 60% water and it performs essential functions like digestion, absorption, circulation, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature. Water also helps energize your muscles and prevents muscle fatigue. Since we lose water through sweat, urine, and stool every day, it’s important to frequently hydrate and maintain the fluid balance in the body.
During pregnancy, hydration becomes even more important than usual. Apart from the usual fluid requirements of the body, there are some reasons why your body requires even more fluids than usual when you’re pregnant.
- The foetus is surrounded by amniotic fluid, which helps it stay protected and nourished. And consuming a reasonable quantity of fluids helps in the production of amniotic fluid.
- Your blood volume needs to increase during pregnancy, in order to carry oxygen and important nutrients to the foetus. Staying hydrated helps increase blood volume.
- Your child will depend largely on your breast milk for nutrition during the first six months of his or her life. So, it’s very important that your body produces breast milk in adequate quantities, and consuming the right amount of fluids will help in this.
- Water helps prevent issues like constipation, haemorrhoids, and urinary tract infections which tend to appear even more during pregnancy.
- Lack of hydration can lead to premature labour.
- In some cases, morning sickness can take a more severe form, known as hyperemesis gravidarium. In this medical condition, women tend to throw up constantly, leaving them feeling dehydrated. Replenishing your body with fluids becomes even more important in this case.
2. What is the quantity of fluids you need to consume?
Your body gets the water it needs from two sources — the fluids your drink and the food you eat. Of course, the amount of fluid that should be consumed might not be exactly the same for all. It depends on things like your activity level, your size, and the weather. If you’re physically active and tend to sweat more, or if the weather is hot, you will need to consume more fluids. You also need to consume more fluids if you’re suffering from diarrhoea, vomiting, or fever.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that women should drink about 10 cups of fluids throughout a day. However, a better way of making sure you’re drinking the right amount of fluids is by really listening to your body. For instance, keep a close watch on your urine. It should ideally be a pale yellow/straw-coloured liquid. If it’s darker, then it means you need to increase your fluid intake. Also, if you feel thirsty, make sure you drink water then and there. Being thirsty is a sign that your body is dehydrated already. So, you shouldn’t wait until you feel the urge to drink.
3. What kind of fluids should you choose?
It’s very important to remember that not all fluids are same. So, here are some things to keep in mind while deciding what type of fluid to consume.
- Plain water is the best option for quenching thirst and ensuring proper hydration. However, drinking large amounts of water can get boring at times. In such cases, adding a few lemon wedges or mint leaves to the water can make it a more appealing drink.
- Milk, fresh fruit juices, and smoothies are a great way to get fluids into your body. But it’s important to remember that juices and smoothies come with natural fruit sugar. So, though these are better than sodas and colas, be mindful about how much you’re consuming.
- Hot drinks can also contribute to your fluid intake. So herbal teas are not a bad idea, but just don’t overdo them. 2-3 cups a day are adequate. Having methi tea is another great way of increasing your fluid intake while also providing your body with essential nutrients.
- Caffeine isn’t recommended during pregnancy, so make sure you don’t have more than 200mg of caffeine in a day, which would translate into 1 - 2 cups of tea or coffee.
- Alcohol is a strict no-no and it’s best avoided during pregnancy.
Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your baby, both during and after pregnancy, so make it a priority and be mindful of the fluids you consume.