We have all heard it – the familiar mantra – “Drink eight glasses of water per day!” But for pregnant women that guideline is no longer merely the target to shoot for. It is the bare minimum.
How Much Water Do You Need For A Healthy Pregnancy?
During pregnancy your blood volume will increase by forty percent and water is necessary for this process. Fluids are also needed to carry nutrients to cells and take waste products away. During pregnancy there is about one quart of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby and your body completely replaces that fluid every two to three hours! Proper hydration also helps you stay healthy by regulating your body temperature and aiding in digestion during pregnancy and helping to prevent constipation.
Pregnant women lose 2-3 quarts of water each day through perspiration and urination. More fluids are lost on hot days or during physical activity. It is important to stay hydrated and replace these lost fluids to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
What Happens If I Don’t Drink Enough Water?
Not getting enough water during pregnancy can make your feel fatigued or irritable – even if you are just slightly dehydrated. More severe levels of dehydration can deplete the extra blood fluid levels or make you more prone to bladder infections. A lack of water during pregnancy can also trigger uterine contractions, leading to premature labor.
How Can I Make Sure I’m Staying Hydrated Enough?
First of all – don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water! Thirst is an extremely poor indicator of hydration needs. I learned with my first pregnancy that if you FEEL thirsty you are already two glasses of water behind. Secondly, look in the toilet after urination. If the water is bright yellow your urine is too concentrated and you are not drinking enough water. Lastly, fill a quart size pitcher with water each morning and put it in the fridge. Try to have it completely empty of all water by the time you go to bed.
Be aware of non-water drinks while pregnant! While 100% juice is a healthy alternative to soda and colas, when you are pregnant it should not be an alternative to water. Eight glasses of water while pregnant is the key; consider the other drinks a healthy snack. Avoid teas, coffee and soda which are natural diuretics and will pull the water out of your body. If you feel hungry between meals try drinking two glasses of water and waiting 15 minutes to see if that satisfies your hunger (if you are still hungry select a healthy snack). If water doesn’t “taste good” to you try squeezing in a bit of lemon or lime.
Remember, it is up to you to keep a healthy pregnancy. Water might not seem fancy – but it is vital for pregnancy health.
For more information on nutritional needs during pregnancy, as well as healthy menu ideas, see additional articles I’ve written in the resource section below.