On World Water Day, I’d like to take a moment to talk about the importance of water while pregnant. It was a struggle to decide whether to talk about water therapy during labor (getting in the shower or tub for pain management), about the research and safety of water birth, or about hydration. In the end, hydration won (thanks to a coin flip). So here’s what you should know…
Drinking plenty of fluids during pregnancy does a lot for your health and the health of your baby. Your baby needs to have plenty of fluids around them, which will prevent infections, allows them freedom of movement during the pregnancy and while laboring, and keeps the umbilical cord from being compressed. It prevents you from getting dehydrated, which can cause preterm labor, and helps regulate how much food you’re eating by helping you absorb protein, carbohydrates and calories. Some studies suggest it also helps you sleep better when you’re properly hydrated and helps with clearer skin. It certainly helps prevent constipation, which becomes an issue many pregnant people face thanks to Progesterone increase (the hormone that keeps baby in, but also slows digestion). It helps with your own blood production, since your blood volume increases 30% during pregnancy. The hormone Relaxin increases during pregnancy, which helps your joints have more flexibility during labor, but can cause joint pain. Drinking more water helps lubricate your joints and helps with circulation for you and your baby. Water also acts as a shock absorber for your brain and spinal cord.
When temperatures rise, or you’re at a higher altitude, if you’re sick, most especially if you’re running a fever or dealing with sinus issues, or if you’re being physically active, you’ll lose water faster. At these times it’s important to increase your fluid intake. Listening to your body and looking for the cues on your hydration level will help you know when you have gotten enough water includes how well you’re digesting your foods, whether you’re constipated or regular, what color your urine is (it should be the color of diluted lemonade), how your joints are feeling, whether you’re getting muscle cramps, or feeling more fatigued, dizzy or confused than a typical pregnant person feels.
Some tips to help you stay hydrated include things like sipping water throughout the day, not gulping large quantities. If you drink a lot all at once your body doesn’t use it all but will use some and you’ll pee out the rest, leaving you needing more water later despite having had a lot already. Remember that eating fresh fruits and vegetables is not only a great source of fiber and will therefore keep you regular but also, they’re mostly water. Speaking of fruits and veggies, if you infuse your water with cucumber, lemon, frozen strawberries or some other fruit or vegetable it’ll give it flavor and make drinking more water seem less of a chore. Be sure to carry a refillable water bottle with you to remind you to drink often. Drink herbal teas and broths and eat soups for more fluid intake. Exercise is important while pregnant, so your muscles don’t atrophy, and you’re able to handle the extra weight of pregnancy and the rigorous workout of labor, so in the warmer months you’ll want to exercise in the mornings and evenings, when it’s cooler outside, so you don’t lose too much fluid from sweating. Drink up!!!