Eating during Pregnancy: Dealing with Dehydration and Water Retention

Throughout the next nine months, one of the biggest challenges you face will not be about eating during pregnancy. Instead, what you drink will often become your Number One concern.

Too often, even when women aren’t pregnant, they find it difficult to drink enough water per day. It’s not at all uncommon for women to become dehydrated and never know it. Add the problems of morning sickness to the mix and you have a whole new dimension to the problem!

As for water retention, many women experience bloating before their periods and never understand what causes it or how to combat it. In this article, we will discuss the differences between dehydration and water retention, as well as their common solution: drinking plenty of water.

Understanding Dehydration

The problems caused by dehydration during the three trimesters of your pregnancy vary. During the first trimester, you may become dehydrated due to vomiting from morning sickness. A failure to drink enough water can worsen this cycle, making you feel sick to your stomach.

A lack of hydration can also affect the amount of amniotic fluid you have for carrying your baby. During the second and third trimesters, dehydration can lead to premature labor.

Symptoms of dehydration include: thirst, dizziness, headaches, urine with a dark yellow color or strong odor, weakness, dry and chapped skin, inability to urinate, nausea and vomiting, and lost elasticity in your skin.

To combat dehydration, you should drink half your body weight in pounds, in ounces water every day (75 ounces if you weigh 150 pounds, for example). If you are experiencing vomiting, or if the weather is humid, or if you are exercising a lot, or traveling by plane, you should increase your intake as these conditions can aggravate dehydration.

Understanding Water Retention

If you have swollen hands, feet, or ankles, you are experiencing edema, commonly known as water retention. This occurs when extra fluids collect in your tissues, and is common during pregnancy as the baby’s weight presses on your veins, slowing your blood circulation.

There is no cure for water retention, but there are ways you can relieve the symptoms:

• Rest on your left side;
• Put your feet up when possible;
• Stretch after sitting for an extended period of time;
• Wear support stockings;
• Increase your exercise;
• Avoid processed foods and those foods high in sodium;
• Eliminate wheat and gluten from your diet, as sensitivity to these substances can cause water retention.

As with dehydration, water retention is often aided when you begin drinking enough water again. Water will help flush the toxins from your body, which will help with the fluids pooling in your extremities.

The Importance of Drinking Enough Water

Any pregnancy nutritionist will tell you that water is the single most important beverage you can drink during pregnancy. In fact, if you can eliminate sodas, coffees, and teas from your diet and just drink water, you will be doing very well indeed. Water can not only ease the problems of dehydration and water retention, but it can solve other pregnancy problems, such as fatigue, constipation, excessive hunger, headaches, and
body aches.

Now that you know the importance of drinking water, how can you fit drinking enough into your daily schedule? Here are a few tips:

• Bring a water bottle with you on the go;
• Don’t allow yourself to drink any other beverage until you’ve met your daily water quota;
• Squeeze a bit of lemon in or add a sprig of mint to make water more palatable;
• Drink a glass of water after every trip to the bathroom;
• Drink two full glasses with each meal.