Doing everything you're "supposed to do" when you're pregnant can feel like a full-time job. Helping your body grow a human isn't easy, but there's one task that arguably sits at the top of the "must do" list: drink water. It's widely known that not drinking enough water, pregnant or not, can cause dehydration. The symptoms and effects of dehydration vary from person to person, but the toll it takes on pregnant women is especially concerning. So what happens if you don't drink enough water during pregnancy? Perhaps even more importantly, what can be done about it?
For reference, the American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women drink at least eight to 12 glasses of water per day to prevent dehydration. Besides guzzling water like a high school wrestler, there are some other precautions you can take to help prevent dehydration when pregnant, like staying away from caffeine, taking shady shelter on hot days, and upping water intake on exercise days. Or you could just lay horizontal like Cleopatra in an air conditioned home while getting fed grapes.
Joking aside, the effects of not drinking enough water while pregnant vary from woman to woman and some are very serious. It's important every pregnant woman be made aware of the potential complications associated with dehydration so it can either be avoided altogether, or early and potentially life-saving intervention can occur. So, with that in mind, here are seven things that could happen if you don't drink enough water while pregnant.
1. You Could Experience Maternal Overheating
Maternal overheating is a sign of dehydration, and as explained on Healthline, if you're not drinking enough water your body could have a hard time regulating heat. Overheating can also happen if a pregnant woman is in a hot tub or sauna (which is why pregnant woman are encouraged to avoid them). According to the Mayo Clinic, maternal overheating is thought to cause neural tube defects in babies, so it's imperative that pregnant women avoid getting too hot.
2. You Might Get A Wicked Headache
Dehydration in anyone, pregnant or not, is thought to be a trigger for headaches and migraines, according to Very Well. It's not entirely clear what the connection exactly is, but some studies have shown the blood vessels in the head may narrow when attempting to regulate fluids. This would also make it harder for oxygen and blood to get to the brain, resulting in a headache.
3. You'll Be Moody AF
Losing your cool might mean you're not hydrated. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that even a little dehydration can alter a person's mood, energy levels, and mental abilities.
4. You Might Feel Really Dizzy
Being off balance while pregnant is pretty much the norm. But if you feel really unsteady it might mean it's time to sit down and grab a glass of water. According the aforementioned Healthline article, dizziness is a sign of dehydration.
5. Amniotic Fluid May Decrease
The amniotic sac helps protect the baby and aids in the development of muscles, limbs, lungs, and the digestive system, as explained in the aforementioned post by the American Pregnancy Association. If a woman is dehydrated she's at risk for having low levels of amniotic fluid.
6. You Have Increased Risk Of Pre-Term Contractions
I became dehydrated one day during my first pregnancy because I was walking around all day in the heat (and clearly not drinking enough water). That night, while I was in bed, I had what felt like Braxton Hicks, but stronger and more intense. I was admitted to the hospital and doctors told me that I was likely dehydrated which resulted in pre-term contractions, which is pretty scary. Turns out, dehydration can actually cause pre-term labor in some pregnant women, as noted on Healthline.
Bottom line, drink water. It's better to pee a bazillion times than the alternative.
7. Inadequate Breast Milk Production
It's probably not a surprise that you need a sufficient amount of water in your body to make breast milk. According to Healthline, being dehydrated can cause pregnant women to have poor milk production. If you're planning to breastfeed your baby, you'd be wise to guzzle some water.
It may be a challenge regulating your fluids, especially during the summer months, but it can be done. The easiest thing a pregnant woman could do to make sure she's getting enough water is to bring a large, refillable water bottle with her everywhere she goes.