By Dr David Letsa
Increasing water intake during pregnancy is vital to ensure proper hydration, as a pregnant mum is now providing hydration for two people. Thus, the need to remind expecting mothers to drink water for their health and their baby’s health. This article details the importance of hydration during pregnancy, explores the dangers of dehydration during pregnancy and provides advice on how pregnant mothers can hydrate adequately.1
Why is Hydration Important During Pregnancy?
As a mother-to-be, you and your baby need more water than the average person since water takes on additional responsibilities during pregnancy. Therefore, it is imperative to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated during pregnancy since hydration directly impacts the health of the mother and child.
First, consider how water is an integral part of the human body. For a pregnant woman, it affects the placenta, the nutrition of the growing baby, and the amniotic sac that offers a cushion throughout pregnancy. In addition, if you are dehydrated and carrying a baby, the amniotic juice can decrease and cause oligohydramnios and other complications.1
So it is vital to know when hydration is inadequate. The main signs of dehydration during pregnancy include the following:
- Dry mouth
- Dizziness and fainting
- Dark urine
- Sunken eyes
- Irritability or confusion
- Low blood pressure
- Increased body temperature
- Tiredness and fatigue
If you experience these signs, acting quickly and easing dehydration is essential. In addition, getting professional help is vital in case of moderate to severe dehydration since obstetricians or healthcare providers can monitor the dehydration and ensure the mother’s and growing baby’s wellbeing.2
Pregnancy Complications From Dehydration
The following are the most common pregnancy complications associated with dehydration.
- Low amniotic fluid: Dehydration can cause the level of amniotic fluid to decrease in several studies.2, 3
- Low blood sodium levels: One of the expected changes in pregnancy is having less sodium in the blood. But this is often mild or minimal. Hyponatremia or low blood sodium often correlates with temporary dehydration. This condition can cause altered personality, lethargy and confusion. Severe hyponatremia can result in seizures, and coma, affect labour, and even lead to death. 4
- Pre-eclampsia: Pre-eclampsia is a profound medical condition that often occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Patients with pre-eclampsia usually have high blood pressure, protein in their urine, swelling, headaches, and blurred vision present. If untreated, it can lead to the breaking away of the placenta from the uterine wall, stroke, seizure, and organ failure. There’s a potential for misdiagnosis since there can be causative links between dehydration, pre-eclampsia, and low blood sodium levels.4
- Constipation: As a result of hormonal changes during pregnancy, pregnant women experience constipation. Dehydration impairs the digestion of food and contributes to waste accumulation in the stomach.5
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): It is more likely that pregnant women will get a UTI, and dehydration may make the situation worse. Several studies have shown that dehydration also causes UTIs in women who are not pregnant. 6
- Braxton Hick’s contractions: A common trigger for Braxton Hick’s contractions is dehydration. The first action to ease these contractions is to drink more fluids.
Pregnancy poses several challenges, including maintaining fluid balance. Due to pregnancy’s hormonal and physical changes, fluids and electrolytes are lost more rapidly. Thus, pregnant women must stay hydrated to prevent health or pregnancy complications.
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- Hytten FE, Klopper AI. Response to a water load in pregnancy. J Obstet Gynaecol Br Commonw 1963;70:811–816. DOI: 10.1111/j.1471- 0528.1963.tb04983.x.
- Schreyer, P., Sherman, D. J., Ervin, M. G., Day, L., & Ross, M. G. (1990). Maternal dehydration: impact on ovine amniotic fluid volume and composition. Journal of developmental physiology, 13(5), 283–287.
- Hofmeyr, G. J., Gülmezoglu, A. M., & Novikova, N. (2002). Maternal hydration for increasing amniotic fluid volume in oligohydramnios and normal amniotic fluid volume. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2002(1), CD000134. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD000134
- Powel, J. E., Rosenthal, E., Roman, A., Chasen, S. T., & Berghella, V. (2020). Preeclampsia and low sodium (PALS): A case and systematic review. European journal of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology, 249, 14–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejogrb.2020.03.052
- Shi, W., Xu, X., Zhang, Y., Guo, S., Wang, J., & Wang, J. (2015). Epidemiology and Risk Factors of Functional Constipation in Pregnant Women. PloS one, 10(7), e0133521. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0133521
- Johnson, C. Y., Rocheleau, C. M., Howley, M. M., Chiu, S. K., Arnold, K. E., & Ailes, E. C. (2021). Characteristics of Women with Urinary Tract Infection in Pregnancy. Journal of women’s health (2002), 30(11), 1556–1564. https://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2020.8946
- Raines DA, Cooper DB. Braxton Hicks Contractions. [Updated 2022 Aug 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470546/