During pregnancy most women are likely to pay more attention to living healthily and eating a healthy diet, but there is a chance that they may still overlook a key element in antenatal well-being; hydration.
When pregnant or breastfeeding a women’s water requirements are higher than usual- around 300ml and 700ml higher respectively.Water is needed to form amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby, support the increase in blood plasma volume and produce breast milk.
Hyperemesis gravidarum, is an acute form of morning sickness which can cause severe dehydration. Whilst this condition is severe and highly unusual, expectant mothers with any degree of morning sickness are more likely to become dehydrated more quickly.
Being well hydrated may help alleviate some pregnancy related conditions; here are just a few of the lesser known ones
· Low water intakes can cause hypo-hydration, a severe form of dehydration. A study assessing water intakes in pregnancy found that total water intakes were lowest in early pregnancy (around 2182ml/day), increasing to an average of 2466ml/day in the third trimester
· It was also identified that women with lower water intakes, particularly later in pregnancy, were more likely to experience symptoms of constipation.
· Drinking enough water may go some way to helping prevent urinary tract infections. Studies in the past have not been adequately designed to determine ‘how much’ fluid should be consumed but it is thought that water consumption may help with the elimination of bacteria.
· There is also evidence arising from one study which indicated that adequate hydration during pregnancy can prevent oligohydramnios (when there is a smaller amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby).
To help understand the importance of hydration for pregnancy health. Dr Emma Derbyshire PhD, RNutr author of ‘Nutrition in the Childbearing Years’ and advisor to the Natural Hydration Council (www.naturalhydrationcouncil.org.uk) has provided essential tips hydration in pregnancy.1. Water is an excellent beverage choice for mums to-be. It is natural and helps women to rehydrate without consuming calories and sugars.
2. Women should increase their total water intakes by an extra 300ml/day during pregnancy and 700ml/day during breastfeeding, over and above the 2000ml/day of total water intake recommended by EFSA.
3. Make water the first choice when it comes to hydration.
4. Water-rich foods such as soups, stews, yoghurts, fruits and vegetables can help top up total water intake.
5. Pregnant women should take frequent small drinks, particularly after birth when they are busy looking after their new baby.
6. Women breastfeeding should make sure that they are getting enough fluids – try to remember to keep a glass of water on hand when you sit down to feed your baby.
7. Women should reduce their intakes of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages during pregnancy and breastfeeding.