Water is essential to life and health. You can only last a few days without it, yet most of us consume the minimal amount to scrape by and we wonder why our digestion and other essential systems are not functioning right. During pregnancy our water demands increase drastically, which makes staying hydrated even more important during this time. But, before we talk more about the importance of water in pregnancy, let’s talk a little about why we need water for a healthy life.
One great way to think about why water is so essential is to think about it through the analogy of taking a shower. What is the reason we take showers? To clean our body on the outside. While showers are great to cleanse the skin, water also cleans the inside of our body. When we take a shower with a dribble of water it is less efficient and may also decrease the probability of washing all the dirt off your skin. The same goes with water on the inside. If only a small or minimal amount of water is being consumed, it doesn’t have enough to completely “wash” your insides, leaving sluggish digestion, constipation, and even blood flow.
As for hydration during pregnancy, there was a study conducted to track hydration levels during pregnancy to see if there were any associations of pregnancy complications and maternal-infant birth outcomes. This study noted that “optimal hydration is essential for maintaining health. For pregnant women, the endocrine system shows considerable changes during pregnancy, which may affect water metabolism and balance and thus, hydration state.” Pregnant moms start increasing their blood supply between gestational weeks 6 and 8 to accommodate for a growing baby, so their water intake needs to increase early on in pregnancy. Blood is comprised of 83% water, so even with a small increase in blood production, increased water intake is essential.
All human tissue is comprised of and needs water, so when you are creating another human, it is natural that the demand for water increases. We are also very aware that nutrition needs increase because a pregnant body is using twice the energy even at rest. Zhang, N., et al. states that “nutrients and energy requirements for pregnant women are also increased, so food intake is increased. Water is the carrier of food metabolism, digestion, absorption, circulation and excretion.” I hope at this point it is clear that adequate water consumption will improve how your body functions, which includes blood pressure, muscle tension, clarity and focus, as well as circulation.
Some of your water intake can come from eating water dense food, but a majority of your water will come from drinking it. We also lose plenty of water through 4 different avenues. Those are urination, sweating, breathing, and feces, according to the study. The amount of water output is directly related to the amount of water input. Take a minute and reflect on how often you are using the restroom and note what the color and clarity it is. Yes, when we are drinking more water we will be using the restroom more often, but the color should also be pale and clear. These are good guidelines to make sure you are hydrated. Pregnant moms are also breathing heavier because they are using more energy, meaning they are losing more water through their respiratory systems. Considering constipation is a common issue that pregnancy brings, this may or may not be an area that they are losing much water, but increasing water uptake will help with pregnancy related constipation.
To help you achieve optimal hydration during pregnancy, here are a few of my favorite ways to help increase water intake:
Tips to help spruce up your water to make it more appetizing!
Make it cold
Warm it up and add lemon
Add fruit, veggies, mint, or herbs to refresh it
Suck on ice chips throughout the day
Use water in smoothies along with vegetables for nutrient rich snacks
Drink coconut water
Tips on how to drink more water throughout the day
Use a reusable water bottle to carry EVERYWHERE with you
Drink 8 oz at the top of the hour
Set a timer
Start the day with a glass of water
Water dense food to eat to boost water intake:
Lettuce (Iceberg and Romain)
Now that you have learned the importance of staying hydrated, I hope these tips make it easier for you to accomplish it. A good rule of thumb is calculating half your body weight in ounces and drinking that much daily. There are no clear guidelines for how much water a pregnant person should consume, but as your weight fluctuates, it is simple to adjust the amount of water you need by using your weight. Try these tips out and visit your local chiropractor to maximize a healthy pregnancy.
Zhang, N., Zhang, F., Chen, S. et al. Associations between hydration state and pregnancy complications, maternal-infant outcomes: protocol of a prospective observational cohort study. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 20, 82 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-020-2765-x