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Why Are My Mouth & Lips So Dry When I'm Pregnant? An Expert Explains

One positive perk to pregnancy, I thought, was not ever having to worry about a hangover ever again — at least for nine-plus months, right? But who knew every day of early pregnancy feels like a horrible hangover without the fun the night before? There’s the headaches, the nausea, the dizziness and, yes, even the dry mouth and lips first thing in the morning. But I’m clearly not hungover since I’m sober as a nun these days, so why are my mouth and lips so dry when I’m pregnant?

Dr. G. Thomas Ruiz, an OB-GYN at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, says dry mouth and lips occur because “pregnancy causes body distribution of fluids into soft tissues, causing a decrease in the amount of fluid in the blood vessels. Decreased volume in the arteries and veins is going to make you thirsty and dry mouth is a sign that you need more fluid.”

I've been drinking 96 ounces of water a day, so how much water should you actually be drinking? There’s another reason pregnant ladies have to pee every five minutes, and it’s not just because their kidneys are moving around and their uterus is pressing on their bladder. According to What to Expect, pregnant women in “temperate climates” need to drink around 13 8-ounce glasses of water a day, which equals to be about 104 ounces — a little less than a gallon of water a day. Sheesh. Better start filling up that Nalgene more often ladies, it’s going to be a wild ride.

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Ruiz recommends, “You drink enough to quench your thirst. I tell many of my pregnant patients to carry a water bottle with them so they can drink as soon as they feel thirsty.”

But why do we need so much more water than the average person? According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), “As a pregnant woman, you need more water than the average person, since water plays an important role in the healthy development of your baby. Water helps to form the placenta, which is what your baby relies on to receive nutrients during pregnancy. Water is also used to form the amniotic sac later in your pregnancy.”

How do you know if you’re not drinking enough water? First of all, the color of your urine will be light yellow to almost clear. If you’re dehydrated it will look dark yellow and almost brown. The APA noted you may also experience “maternal overheating,” since you don’t have enough water to regulate your body heat. You’ll feel hot and overheated.

What happens to you and baby if you don’t drink that 104 ounces of water a day? It’s not good. The APA noted that a lack of water can cause severe pregnancy complications like low amniotic fluid, neural tube defects in the baby, low breast milk production, and premature labor. Yikes. And in addition to drinking your 13 glasses of water a day, make sure to stay away from strenuous exercises or “spending a lot of time in a hot environment,” according to the APA.

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Unfortunately, it seems like having a dry mouth is a pretty common pregnancy symptom, even if you are trying to drink as much water as you can. I’ve found that a good way to measure your water intake and keep track is to use a water bottle with measurements on there. You can also log it into apps like “My Fitness Pal” — where I also log my calorie intake for the day — or "FitBit" — where I also track my exercise and steps. There are even apps to remind you to drink water and to log how much water you’re drinking. What a world we live in these days. Good luck and remember to drink, drink, drink.  

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