Guide to Dehydration in Pregnancy

Julie Kirk
Pregnant woman drinking water

Dehydration can put you at greater risk for pregnancy complications, especially if you become severely dehydrated. Maintaining a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby is the goal, therefore, it is imperative that you stay hydrated when you are pregnant.

Why Staying Hydrated Is Important During Pregnancy

An appropriate intake of fluid is especially important when you are pregnant. Staying hydrated has many benefits for you such as, regulating body heat, easing constipation, reducing swelling and relieving indigestion. It also helps in the formation of the placenta and ensures that your baby will receive the nutrients necessary for his or her growth and development.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

The following are the many warning signs and symptoms of dehydration during pregnancy that should not be ignored.

Mild-to-Moderate Symptoms

The following are symptoms of mild-to-moderate dehydration which include:

  • Feeling thirsty is usually the first sign of dehydration
  • Dry mouth, throat and eyes
  • Dry skin and chapped lips
  • Feeling or becoming easily overheated
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Urinating less frequently
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Feeling weak, exhausted or sluggish
  • Uterine cramping
  • Braxton Hicks contractions

Severe Symptoms

You should go to the hospital if you experience any of the following severe symptoms of dehydration which include:

  • Dizziness, confusion or irritability
  • Fainting or seizures
  • True premature contractions
  • Little to no urine being produced
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea for over 12 hours
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Baby's movements have changed
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Leaking of amniotic fluid

Additional Causes of Dehydration

Other than not drinking enough water, there are other possible causes or issues that may contribute to becoming dehydrated such as:

  • Morning sickness (nausea and vomiting) or hyperemesis gravidarum which is extreme morning sickness that may even require hospitalization
  • Living in a hot and/or humid climate
  • Exercising routinely or vigorously
  • If you tend to sweat excessively
  • If you have a fever
  • If you have an underlying condition where you are unable to absorb water as you should, such as a metabolic disorder, kidney issues or intestinal disorders such as Crohn's or celiac disease.

Potential Serious Effects from Dehydration

There are a number of potentially serious issues that can be directly attributed to dehydration. These include:

Treatment of Dehydration

If you are mildly dehydrated, this can usually be corrected by drinking additional fluids and resting at home. However, if you have symptoms of severe dehydration, it may be necessary to go to the emergency room where they will be able to quickly replenish your fluids and nutrients intravenously.

Preventing Dehydration

A pregnant woman will need more water than the average person. It is generally recommended that you should drink about 10 (8 oz.) glasses of water a day to remain properly hydrated. Therefore, it is important to make the extra effort when it comes to your fluid intake. Some tips to prevent dehydration include:

  • Always keep a bottle of water with you.
  • Keep track of your fluid intake.
  • Check the color of your urine. It should be colorless or light yellow.
  • Do not partake in strenuous exercise.

If you are not a big water drinker, you can also hydrate with milk, flavored water, sparkling water, fruit juice (but be careful of the sugar content), vegetable juice, decaffeinated tea or even a bowl of soup. You should avoid caffeinated drinks such as soda and coffee since they can have a diuretic effect.

Dehydration Can Be Harmful to You and Your Baby

Dehydration needs to be taken seriously. If you are having trouble keeping water down or with your fluid intake in general, you should let your doctor know your concerns especially before you become dehydrated. When you are cautious and proactive, this will increase your chances of having a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Guide to Dehydration in Pregnancy