Guide to Dehydration during Pregnancy

Guide to Dehydration during Pregnancy
December 14 08:02 2016

Dehydration is a condition that should be taken seriously in the human body, particularly in babies, children and pregnant women. Expecting mothers should pay particular attention to their liquid up take and state of hydration in order to avoid harming themselves and the unborn baby. Because there are two lives involved, dehydration during pregnancy becomes a very important issue that we should discuss in detail. Dehydration during pregnancy is very frequent due to morning sickness and eating disorders that most women go through.


Why hydration is important to the body

The majority of the human body is made comprised of water, any loss of this all important body component can lead to body systems imbalance. We talk of dehydration when the body has lost about 2 percent of its normal water composition. When water loss exceed the 2 percent threshold, dehydration symptoms will begin to kick in, leading to dizziness, confusion, weakness and other signs.


Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration During Pregnancy

If you are worried that you are losing a lot of body fluids due to nausea and morning sickness, here are signs and symptoms you should keep note of during pregnancy:

  • An incredible feeling of thirstiness that persists even when you drink water. This is usually the first sign of that your body has lost a lot of water.
  • Light-headedness, dizziness or headaches. Some people may experience a “passing out-like” feeling.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry lips with a feeling of dry nostrils accompanied with crusty lips
  • Dry skin on the touch
  • Urine that carries a strong odor with a concentrated color. It can appear to be dark yellow or orange in severe cases
  • Less frequent visits to the bathroom to urinate, in severe cases the dehydrated individual does not urinate at all
  • General body weakness


When you experience any of the above symptoms it is best that you consult with your health practitioner or start home based rehydration methods, which we will discuss later.


Factors that can lead to dehydration

There are some factors that promote states of dehydration and knowing them is often the beginning of managing dehydration.


  • Lack of enough fluids 

The leading factor of dehydration is the lack of enough uptakes of fluids. Most people think that drinking excessive fluids is the key to dealing with dehydration but having excess fluids and lead to other complications as well. So during pregnancy, your water intake should match your age of pregnancy, the climate that you live in, your exercise levels, age, weight, and your diet. Consulting with your gynecologist is usually the best, as they will recommend the correct amount of fluids that you are supposed to take in. For example, summer pregnancies need different water uptake as compared to other seasons, while older women require more water than younger women.


  • Vomiting 

Vomiting during pregnancy is very common but excess vomiting can lead to dehydration.


  • Flying and air transport 

The moisture up in the air is different from down here. Flying requires pregnant women to take in extra water as the low moisture levels in the cabin can lead to dehydration.


  • Weather and climate 

Hot weathers and high temperatures cause sweating; excessive sweating can therefore cause dehydration.


Other causes of dehydration include:

  • Vigorous exercise in dry and hot weather
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever



The effects and consequences of Dehydration During Pregnancy


Biologically, a pregnant woman requires more water than any other regular person. This is because the baby needs fluids and the quantity of blood circulation during pregnancy is higher than the normal days. That is why dehydration during pregnancy can easily bring about serious problems and must be avoided. The following are effects of dehydration:


  1. Effects of dehydration on the expecting mother 

In addition to the regular problems of dehydration, dehydration during pregnancy can cause severe morning sickness in pregnant women. This leads to a worsened state of dehydration that often causes an increase in body temperature and serious infections like UTIs. Dehydration can also cause difficulties with the rise of breast milk during pregnancy.


  1. Effects on the unborn baby 

In the uterus, then baby is protected inside an amniotic sac which contains fluids called amniotic fluid. It is this fluid that cushions the baby during pregnancy. Dehydrations can reduce the amniotic fluid and cause problems with the development of the baby. Poor development and growth of the baby can cause a wide range of complications namely birth defects, premature birth, and miscarriage.


  1. Preterm labor and Premature birth 

Dehydration during pregnancy can irritate the uterus and cause it to contract. The contractions are different from the regular contractions that can occur during pregnancy, these contractions are painful and intense. The contractions can also be a result of the concentrated blood flowing in the vessels; concentrated blood can be rich in oxytocin, a hormone that is responsible for triggering contractions.

It is these contractions that will initiate preterm labor and result in premature birth. The more severe the dehydration is the higher the chances of preterm labor occurring. The situation is even more critical before 24 weeks of pregnancy.


How to manage and treat dehydration during pregnancy


  • If you are experience one of the signs of dehydration that we discussed above, the first thing you should do in order to manage your dehydration is to drink more water and fluids like fruit juice. If you drink a sufficient amount of fluids the body water levels will be restored to normal and the sign will regress and eventually disappear.
  • If nausea is causing you not to drink as much water as you should, adding a squeeze of lemon in the drinking water can help you drink the water and keep it down. Alternatively you can drink fruit juice, when the nausea decreases you can then switch to water.
  • If you are experiencing more than one or two of the signs mention earlier on then you are most likely to be suffering from a more than mild dehydration and you can not treat or manage this yourself. You have to consult with your doctor so you can be put on a treatment plan. This involves the use of IV fluids that assist with balancing the electrolyte levels in your body and restoring the system to normal.
  • Managing your diet is another way of treating dehydration. For example, having juice or a smoothie with your breakfast then a soup dish for lunch can go a long way in replenishing body water. It is important that you avoid drinks that contain caffeine as it can make you more dehydrated.
  • Do NOT drink water excessively and too quickly to try and rehydrate yourself. This can cause damage to your kidneys, as they will be now working overdrive to filter out all the excess water. Up take of water should be regulated so the body can stabilize correctly. A cup of water every hour is sufficient to correct body water levels in mild dehydration.
  • Avoid excessive exercise particularly in hot weather situations.


Dehydration can be a major problem to everyone but it is more concerning whenever a pregnancy is involved for the reasons that we discussed earlier on. When you are pregnant you need more water than usual and you need to watch your state of hydration closely so you can better manage it if dehydration creeps up on you. Knowing the signs of dehydration is vital in avoiding sever dehydration. If you experience severe signs do not waste time, go and see a doctor immediately.




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