We all know it’s important to drink water, but what does drinking water do? Are you suppose to drink more water when you are pregnant? Hydration is especially important during pregnancy. Water aids in digestion and the absorption of nutrients; transports nutrients and oxygen to cells; acts as a solvent for vitamins, minerals, glucose, and amino acids; And provides a foundation for chemical reactions. In particular water intake is necessary for optimal absorption of water-soluble vitamins including ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), cause it is needed for the body to make collagen, a structural protein that’s a component of cartilage, tendons, bones, and skin. Vitamin C also helps your body fight infections and acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage.1
Water is also a major component of mucus and other lubricating fluids important for mother and baby. 2 Water carries out several additional functions within the body: It provides shape and structure to cells and helps regulate body temperature, this is especially important during warm months.
Additionally, a common complaint of pregnancy is constipation. Increased fluid intake can help to alleviate constipation. An adequate fluid supply also ensures that the mother has enough reserves to tolerate blood loss during delivery.3 Certain issues can contribute to dehydration such as morning sickness, increased sweating and more frequent urination all speed up the loss of water and electrolytes. Feeling nauseous can make it difficult to drink enough water therefore it becomes challenging to replace the lost nutrients and fluid.
Diarrhea can also cause dehydration during pregnancy which could be due to sudden dietary changes, increased hormone production or sensitivity to certain foods that some women experience during pregnancy. During the third trimester, diarrhea is more common, especially nearing the due date. This is where replacing electrolytes can come into play to help maintain fluid balance. Good sources include coconut water or an electrolyte beverage ( I like using nuun tabs in my water).
The mothers increased water needs throughout pregnancy can be significantly greater than her water needs pre pregnancy. With typical pre pregnancy body water amounts of 5-6L, during pregnancy this can increase to as much as 9L. Expecting mothers also produce more blood (which requires more water) to help send nutrients to the developing baby. According to one study Pregnant and breastfeeding women should be encouraged to increase their intake of water and other fluids to meet their bodies’ needs.4
The actual amount of additional water seems to have quite a few variables making it tough to recommend exact amounts. One study recommended using your caloric intake multiplied by 1-1.5ml to come up with fluid needs 5 However, this does not take into account diet (how much water is in the food you are eating vs actual water you are drinking), exercise and climate. With each of these variables additional water is needed to help maintain hydration.
I like to use the rule of thumb to drink half of my body weight in oz, adding additional during exercise and warm weather. That way as the weight increases, fluid needs will as well.
Another way to help judge if you are drinking enough is by using your urine color as a guide. When your urine is pale yellow you are well hydrated. Dark yellow drink water soon. Amber or honey color and your body isn’t getting enough water.6
Hydration is essential to maintaining and growing life. An easy way to ensure water intake through out the day is to get your favorite water bottle (preferably glass or stainless steel) and keep it with you at all times, so it’s easier to drink through the day.
Drink up and stay hydrated!