14 Symptoms Of Dehydration During Pregnancy & Ways To Prevent

Dehydration During Pregnancy

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Persistent thirstiness, light-headedness, dry skin and dry lips. Are you suffering from all these during pregnancy? No doubt, you are losing a lot of body fluids. Do not take dehydration lightly during pregnancy as it could sometimes be life-threatening to both the mother and the baby.

MomJunction helps you understand what happens if you are dehydrated during pregnancy, how long it takes to recover and what steps you need to take to treat the condition.

How Much Water Should You Drink When Pregnant?

You need to drink eight to ten glasses of water every day (1). The quantity can include the beverages you consume but, ideally, your first option should be plain water. Fluids such as juice, milk, tea and coffee contain water and contribute to your fluid intake, but they also give you extra calories.

Your body needs extra water for performing additional functions during pregnancy, and not taking sufficient water can cause adverse effects on the fetus. Water helps in the formation of the placenta, through which the growing fetus takes nutrients. In the later stage of pregnancy, water helps in forming the amniotic sac. Therefore, it is important to avoid dehydration during pregnancy.

What Causes Dehydration During Pregnancy?

Your body uses high amounts of water due to certain conditions during pregnancy. It could result in dehydration if you are not trying to replace the lost fluids.

  1. Morning sickness is the primary cause: About 50% to 80% of pregnant women experience morning sickness, one of the main causes of dehydration. The condition appears during four to six weeks and peaks around 10 to 16 weeks. The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, frequent urination and sweating. These symptoms will disappear by the time you reach second trimesters, but in some cases, women continue to have morning sickness beyond second trimester.

[ Read: Morning Sickness During Pregnancy ]

The symptoms of morning sickness result in the loss of fluids and electrolytes from your body, causing dehydration. Moreover, nausea will not allow you to take fluids, making it harder for the body to regain the lost water (2).

  1. Severe morning sickness, also known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum: This is a rare condition which affects around 2% of pregnant women. The symptoms, same as those of morning sickness, remain throughout your pregnancy.

Hyperemesis symptoms also cause a severe loss of water and electrolytes. It leads to fever, associated with nausea and vomiting, causing excessive sweating and dehydration.

  1. Diarrhea: Hormonal changes, dietary habits and aversion to certain foods can lead to diarrhea, especially in the third trimester. This also results in excessive loss of fluids and electrolytes. Replenishing the body after diarrhea is critical.

[ Read: Diarrhea During Pregnancy ]

Some other factors that increase the risk of dehydration are:

  1. Lack of enough fluids: During pregnancy, check with your healthcare provider or gynecologist about the best water-intake regime. You need to be careful because excess water can also cause complications. Your water intake level will depend on your trimester, activity level, weight, age, climate and the season. You will be more susceptible to dehydration during the warmer seasons.
  1. Air travel: Air in the cabin contains little moisture, and it can cause dehydration in your body. You should try to stay hydrated by drinking water when traveling. Airline rules may not allow carrying water bottles, but some flight attendants might allow.
  1. Humidity: Hot weather and humidity make you sweat, thereby leading to dehydration.
  1. Age: One of the problems of late pregnancies after the age of 35 is dehydration. Our bodies will be less capable to conserve water, and you feel fewer thirst pangs.
  1. Overheating: Heat exhaustion could overheat your body draining away all the fluids.

[ Read: Overheating During Pregnancy ]

  1. Vigorous exercise especially in warm weather: This could make you sweat more and, when coupled with warm weather, can lead to dehydration.
  1. Fever: Body temperature that is higher than the normal could cause vomiting, loss of fluids and poses a high risk.

Signs And Symptoms Of Dehydration In Pregnancy:

Once your body is depleted of water, it shows the dehydrated symptoms and signs. It is vital for you to recognize them.

1. Maternal overheating is a sign where your body has trouble in regulating the heat.

2. Thirst is the initial and the most unnoticed sign. Do not neglect if you are thirsty, listen to your body and drink water. Maintain a routine of drinking water often, at least one glass an hour.

 3. Dizziness, vertigo or lightheadedness, usually when standing, kneeling or bending over. It happens due to the drop in blood pressure because of dehydration.

4. Headache, especially migraines, is another prominent symptom of dehydration.

5. Dark yellow urine with a strong odor. Clear urine means you are hydrating yourself properly.

6. Braxton-Hicks contractions (painless uterine contractions)

7. Dry mouth, nose, and skin which has lost its elasticity.

8. Swollen tongue and chapped lips.

9. Vomiting and nausea associated with abdominal pain and cramps.

Severe dehydration symptoms could be:

10. Weakness

11. Lack of concentration

12. Constipation

13. Piles

14. Urinary tract infections

[ Read: Urinary tract infections During Pregnancy ]

Dehydration is a common problem that all of us experience. But can it lead to some serious complications during pregnancy?

What Are The Effects Of Dehydration During Pregnancy?

During the first trimester of pregnancy, dehydration might result in two risks:

  1. Effects on the mother: Dehydration caused by morning sickness can lead to nausea, thus making the problem cyclic. When you feel nauseous, you do not feel like drinking more water and then get more nauseous. If a pregnant woman does not take enough fluids to avoid dehydration, she might have to be hospitalized for administering IV fluids.
  1. Effect on the baby: Insufficient fluids in the body mean insufficient amniotic fluid supply to the baby. This will directly affect the growth of the baby. Deficiency in the amniotic fluid can make the fetus lie against the uterus rather than float in the sac. It can, therefore, lead to deformation of his hands and feet.

During the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, dehydration can pose the risk of premature births. It is one of the reasons for premature contractions.

How dehydration leads to premature birth:

During dehydration, the blood volume decreases, thereby increasing the levels of oxytocin (the hormone responsible for contractions) leading to premature labor.

It also raises the body temperature, causing further complications such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke leading to fever, muscle cramps, urinary tract infections and other heat related issues. If you are continuously dehydrating, the nutritional values of breast milk change.

Dehydration during pregnancy is very common, and you can avoid it. There is no better solution than taking plenty of water. If this issue is due to nausea, talk to the doctor and get medical assistance.

Treatment of Mild Dehydration During Pregnancy:

If you are experiencing moderate or mild dehydration symptoms, you can regain the lost fluids by consuming more water.

Water, herbal tea, and decaffeinated coffee are good options.

Fruit juices, soft drinks, milk, soups are acceptable but to a lesser extent than those above.

Say no to alcoholic beverages.

[ Read: Benefits of Coconut Water During Pregnancy ]

When To Call A Doctor?

If dehydration is mild, it can be treated at home. But, if the above remedies do not work and you start experiencing severe symptoms, you should see your healthcare provider without any delay.
The unusual symptoms can be:

  • Fainting
  • Weak pulse
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Blood in your stool
  • No urge to urinate for more than eight hours
  • Persistent vomiting

Your healthcare provider may advise you to get hospitalized so that a comprehensive line of tests are conducted to understand the underlying cause. She may mostly prescribe intravenous therapy, which immediately replenishes your body with essential water and nutrients.

Preventing Dehydration During Pregnancy:

Fatigue caused due to dehydration brings down the energy levels, making you feel dull and lethargic; to avoid this, make sure you drink enough water every day.

  • Do not drink too much water at a stretch, but drink in frequent intervals. Drinking large quantities of water puts pressure on your kidney.
  • Water is the elixir of life, so there are no risks or side effects involved. But drinking it faster and in close intervals can be dangerous.
  • Drinking a cup of water (150-180 ml), for every one hour that you are awake, is an excellent way to get your daily quota of H2O.
  • If you are finding it difficult to drink plain water, try adding a few slices of lemon, cranberry, watermelon or orange to your everyday diet.
  • Liquids such as soups, juices, and smoothies also are a part of the daily water requirement for the body. So, if you find drinking plain water boring, drink them instead.
  • Do not drink caffeine related products, processed fruit juices and sodas as the ingredients can increase your urine output, causing dehydration.
  • Avoid activities such as performing strenuous exercises and spending a long time in hot weather as they produce heat in your body.

If you are finding it tough to keep yourself hydrated, talk to your doctor and get the right advice.

Follow the preventive measures and dehydration remedies, instead of waiting for the doctor to treat you. If your dehydration is because of any above-mentioned risk factors, consult your healthcare provider or gynecologist. Also, confirm with them whether the energy drinks you consume are safe or not.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Can dehydration cause cramps in early pregnancy?

If dehydration is associated with low sodium levels (hyponatremia), it will result in muscle aches, cramps, and weakness. The other symptoms of dehydration in the early pregnancy are vomiting, nausea, confusion, and dehydration.

2. Can dehydration cause spotting in early pregnancy?

Dehydration leads to muscle stiffness, which causes the baby’s sac to break from the uterus. Therefore, it leads to spotting. When this happens, drink water and do not perform any strenuous physical activity.
Do you have more ideas on how to battle dehydration during pregnancy? Do share them with us.

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Rebecca Malachi

She is a Biotechnologist with a proficiency in areas of genetics, immunology, microbiology, bio-engineering, chemical engineering, medicine, pharmaceuticals to name a few. Her expertise in these fields has greatly assisted her in writing medical and life science articles. With 8+ years of work experience in writing for health and wellness, she is now a full-time contributor for Momjunction.com. She is passionate about giving research-based information to readers in need. Apart from writing, she is a foodie, loves travel, fond of gospel music and enjoys observing nature in silence. Know more about her at: linkedin.com/in/kothapalli-rebecca-35881628
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