The dangers of dehydration during pregnancy

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When I was pregnant with my daughter four years ago, even a seemingly harmless glass of water could leave me hanging over the toilet bowl. Morning sickness hit me fast and hard. Desperately struggling to stay hydrated, I spent many a long afternoon hooked up to IV fluids in the emergency room. It was annoying, uncomfortable, and generally an unpleasant way to spend a day. So, why not just suffer through thirsty and dry-lipped?

Because dehydration during pregnancy can do a world of harm to both you and your developing baby.

As a mom-to-be, you need more water than the average person to support all the incredible changes rapidly happening inside your body. For example, water is an essential building block of the placenta, which delivers nutrients to baby throughout pregnancy. It’s also critical to forming and maintaining a healthy amniotic sac–not to mention that it keeps your body as comfortable as can be throughout hormonal changes.

Without adequate water intake (aim for 10 8-ounce cups each day), you may leave yourself open to a host of pregnancy complications, such as low amniotic fluid and preterm labor. If you have trouble keeping liquids down, contact your healthcare provider right away. He or she may recommend immediate IV fluids to help keep you on track.

Signs of dehydration

The easiest way to determine if you’re adequately hydrated is to study your urine output. If you’re having trouble urinating, have decreased urine output, or urine that has a strong odor and dark yellow or brown color, you likely need to increase your water intake. If you experience lightheadedness or rapid heartbeat, call your health care provider immediately.

How to boost hydration

Step one, if you can’t drink liquids without vomiting, call your health care provider. You may have hypermesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness that requires medical attention.

Next, create a regimen. Aim to drink 10 cups of water each day–but don’t feel as though you need to do any chugging. Start slowly with a few sips here and there, and if you need to, look to popsicles and ice chips for extra fluid intake. Avoid caffeine and experiment with flavoring your water with fresh lemon or strawberry, or even diluted juices.

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