When you're pregnant, it's difficult to keep track of all the times you hear someone tell you to drink plenty of water. Sometimes you may feel like you're about to float away! Is drinking so much water really necessary or can you take the advice in moderation?
The scary reality
Holly is a Pennsylvania mom who found out firsthand how dangerous dehydration during pregnancy can be. During her first pregnancy, she was admitted to the hospital at 28 weeks for dehydration and preterm labor as a result. "I had no idea what was going to happen but it was the scariest moment of my life," she says. "I had no idea I was even having contractions at the time because I was so early into my pregnancy -- the thought never occurred to me. I was not at all aware of the risk. In fact, I thought I was drinking plenty of water!" After two months of bed rest, Holly delivered a healthy baby boy and is understandably very aware of the need to hydrate during pregnancy.
Keep the fluids flowing
Pregnant or not, water is key to good health. Still, when a baby's on board it's definitely crucial to keep the fluids flowing. "Since the women's blood volume will double before the baby is born, water is key to this life-saving reality," says Dr. Kenneth Johnson, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the College of Osteopath Medicine and director of the Women's Health Center at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "Secondly, proper hydration during pregnancy will help prevent and, if needed, cure constipation, which is a very common problem during pregnancy."
Don't give up
Sometimes it can be easy to adopt new, healthy habits at the beginning of pregnancy but dedication to hydration should definitely span the length of gestation. "Drinking water near the end of a pregnancy helps add to the overall amount of amniotic fluid for the baby," says Dr. Johnson. "Having more fluid at the end of the pregnancy makes the uterine environment safer for the baby by better protecting the umbilical cord. But because mom is already feeling very 'full' from the baby itself, drinking water near the end of pregnancy is more difficult."
Get it done
While it would be easy to follow rigid water consumption rules, Dr. Johnson says there are no strict guidelines but 10 to 12, 8-ounce glasses of water should be considered the minimum. If you just can't squeeze in another drop of water, you have options. "Fruit juices, herbal teas and other non-carbonated drinks, like milk, can help a woman achieve her overall daily water requirements." Having a baby can be incredibly challenging but staying hydrated during pregnancy will give you the best chance for a healthy nine month adventure.