Water is an essential nutrient required to perform different physiological functions, such as digestion and thermoregulation. Generally, maintaining optimum hydration levels across life stages is crucial, but it requires special attention during pregnancy and lactation. It’s because a woman needs more water in pregnancy to support fetal functions and produce extra blood and amniotic fluid (1). Hence, knowing how much water pregnant women should drink daily is preeminent to prevent dehydration-related adverse outcomes, such as preterm labor.
Read on as we tell you how much water pregnant women should drink daily with practical tips to keep yourselves hydrated.
How Much Water Should You Drink Daily During Pregnancy?
According to the American College Of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), expecting mothers should drink eight to 12 cups (64 to 96 ounces) of water daily (2). Experts suggest that pregnant women need more water than their non-pregnant counterparts because of expanding extracellular fluid spaces, amniotic fluid production, and meeting the developing fetus’ requirements (3).
- Supporting digestion of food and absorption of nutrients
- Transporting nutrients to body cells
- Removing waste and toxins from the body
- Building new tissues, such as the placenta
- Regulating body temperature (thermoregulation)
It is vital to note that eight to 12 cups of water is an average intake limit for pregnant women. You may need more water if you live or work in extremely hot conditions and indulge in daily physical activity. So, talk to your doctor or a certified nutritionist to evaluate your requirements and suggest a daily water intake amount for you.
How Much Water Do You Need Each Trimester?
Water requirements change as your pregnancy progresses. These changes rely on the changes you and your baby undergo. Here’s a brief overview of the trimester-wise water requirement of a pregnant woman.
- First trimester: Many women experience gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea and vomiting in this trimester. These issues make it difficult for the mother to eat and drink, affecting their total water intake. While a slight drop in water intake is mostly benign, it can raise a mother’s risk of developing dehydration if it continues. Thus, you should monitor your total food and fluid intake in a day and keep it at its optimum. Morning sickness and general nausea subside by the end of the first trimester for several mothers (5). A mother should drink 1 – 1.5ml of water for each calorie intake (4).
- Second trimester: Fetal growth and development in the second trimester are relatively rapid. It is why expecting mothers are advised to consume an additional 340kcal (6). Generally, water needs are based on calorie intake, where an individual needs to drink 1 – 1.5ml of water for each calorie intake (4). Hence, you should add an extra 340ml of water to your total water intake.
- Third trimester: In the third trimester, your daily calorie intake needs to go up by an additional 450kcal (6). In sync with that, your total water intake should also increase by an extra 450ml.
Drinking a sufficient amount of water helps perform basic physiological functions and confer some health benefits to the mother and her baby.
Why Do You Need To Stay Hydrated?
Water helps your body systems run properly, which is vital for the progression of a healthy pregnancy. Here are some health benefits that you and your baby can get by maintaining your water intake.
- Fights fatigue: Feeling tired and exhausted isn’t uncommon in pregnancy. In most cases, it happens due to increasing weight and expanding uterus. But in some cases, you may experience fatigue, dizziness, and headache due to dehydration. So, ensure you take ample amounts of fluids throughout the day and stay hydrated.
- Prevents constipation and hemorrhoids: Constipation and hemorrhoids are common problems in pregnancy. An increase in the progesterone levels (hormone) relaxes the intestinal muscles, slowing the passage of food and waste (7). It’s the reason why constipation commonly occurs during pregnancy. In most cases, optimum water intake and consumption of fiber-rich foods can subside constipation. If constipation turns chronic, it can lead to hemorrhoids, painful, swollen veins in the rectum and anus. They develop due to persistent strain caused by an enlarged uterus and passage of hard stool.
- Averts urinary tract (UTI) infections: UTIs are among the most common infections during pregnancy (8). Escherichia coli (bacteria) is the causative agent for the infection that inflames the urinary bladder. If UTI doesn’t resolve, it may lead to a kidney infection, which may cause preterm labor and low birth weight. Experts believe that drinking plenty of water can help keep UTIs at bay by diluting the urine and flushing out bacteria from the urinary tract.
- Alleviates swelling: Water retention and swelling of the body extremities during pregnancy is a common phenomenon. It happens due to different factors, such as increased blood volume (9). According to experts, drinking plenty of water can help reduce swelling by flushing out excess water from the system.
- Maintains body temperature: During pregnancy, overheating or dehydration can occur due to low water intake or excessive perspiration in hot summers. If dehydration becomes persistent, it can raise the mother’s body temperature, harming you and your unborn baby. Hence, you should drink plenty of water and other fluids, such as vegetable juice, soup, and smoothies, to keep yourselves hydrated.
Knowing how much you should drink will help you set your hydration targets right. But how will you know you are dehydrated?
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Dehydration?
Dehydration is the state when your body loses more water than you consume. Since dehydration can have adverse effects on your and your baby’s health, keeping it under check is essential.
Here are some common signs and symptoms of dehydration that you should note (10).
- Dry mouth
- Extreme thirst
- Dry skin, especially on the hands and feet
- Dark-colored urine
- Less urine and sweat than usual
How Can You Stay Hydrated During Pregnancy?
Drinking plain water throughout the day may feel monotonous. So, try the following tips to ensure you meet your total water requirement every day (11).
- Select the right water type. For instance, you can drink plain tap water anytime during the day. Usually, tap water is safe and meets all water safety standards. However, if you suspect your house’s water quality, get it checked by concerned authorities. Besides tap water, you can occasionally drink seltzer or carbonated water, mineral water, and flavored water.
- Start your day with a glass of water. It will help kick-start your metabolism and make you feel refreshed. You can drink plain water or make it lukewarm. Alternatively, you can add lemon juice to plain water, and drink unsweetened lemon water, provided you don’t experience reflux after ingesting lemon juice.
- Drink water throughout the day. Carry a water bottle with you and drink one cup of water every 1.5 to 2 hours. If you feel thirsty in between, drink beverages, such as coconut water and buttermilk. Use a water tracker on your phone to record your total water intake in a day if you tend to forget how much water you had.
- Try infused water. Cucumber, lemon, berries, and mint are a few ingredients you can add to water. All you need to do is cut them into thin slices and steep them in water to make infused water.
- Drink smoothies. It’s a great way to meet your nutritional needs and stay hydrated. But, while smoothies are nutritious, they are relatively high in sugar. Hence, consume them in moderation as a part of your well-balanced pregnancy diet.
- Try herbal teas. There are several herbal tea types that you can consume after consulting your healthcare provider. Consuming herbal teas can help you meet your water requirements and offer bioactive compounds that promote long-term health.
- Consume hydrating foods. These foods contain moisture that can add to your total water intake. Low-fat milk, yogurt, pineapple, orange, squash, and spinach are some hydrating foods you can safely include in your diet.
- Limit or avoid caffeinated beverages. Drink no more than a cup of these beverages. It’s crucial as caffeinated drinks contain caffeine, a diuretic that increases water loss from the body via urination.
Note: Restrict or avoid consuming high-sugar, high-calorie beverages, such as fruit juices and soft drinks, as they can add to your total calorie intake, causing unnecessary weight gain.
Drinking sufficient water in pregnancy is essential for your and your baby’s optimum health and well-being. Therefore, drink eight to 12 cups of water every day. In addition, consume various fluids and hydrating foods that hydrate you and up your diet’s overall nutritional value.
- How Hydration During Pregnancy Can Benefit You and Your Baby.
- How much water should I drink during pregnancy?.
- Kristen S. Montgomery. (2002). Nutrition Column An Update on Water Needs during Pregnancy and Beyond.
- Nausea or Vomiting During Pregnancy.
- Healthy Weight during Pregnancy.
- Constipation in Pregnancy.
- Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy.
- Swollen ankles, feet and fingers in pregnancy
- How Much Water Do You Need.