Dehydration is a common problem that can and does occur amongst the multitude of the earth’s population. It is a condition in which the body retains excretes more water than it absorbs, leading to insufficient quantities of water available for it to carry out normal bodily functions. A person suffering from dehydration commonly exhibits symptoms such as fatigue, extreme thirst, dizziness, less urination, and muscle weakness, among others. What does it mean if you’re dehydrated during your pregnancy? As someone who is carrying a baby, it’s important to keep in mind that water is essential for many pregnancy-related functions and bodily processes; this makes it doubly important to ensure that dehydration is avoided or taken care of promptly.
How does one do this?
Firstly, to know whether or not you are suffering from dehydration, there are some common symptoms you can look out for:
- Extreme thirst and dry mouth
- Dark yellow colour of the urine
- Less frequent need to urinate
- Maternal overheating or overheating of the body
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Dizziness and confusion
- Nausea (in excess of any morning sickness you may have)
Dehydration is caused due to the loss of more water by the body than what is taken in. This imbalance could be attributed to several reasons including:
- Not drinking enough water
- Severe diarrhoea
- Severe vomiting
- Intense/long duration of exercise in warm weather and/or without proper hydration
- Excess sweating which could also be caused due to hot and humid weather
Travelling in an aeroplane as it has low air humidity (however, this would mostly only affect you in the case of very long journeys, unless you are already suffering from it)
Effects and Consequences:
Dehydration can have adverse impacts on yours as well as your baby’s health.
As it can lead to nausea, it may cause a vicious cycle in which you are nauseated due to less water but are unable to drink more water due to nausea. This may also lead to cramps which have been called Braxton-Hicks contractions.
Water is an essential requirement for the sustenance of the amniotic fluid. Dehydration could lead to a less amniotic fluid which affects fetal growth and development. It can lead to physical birth defects as well as problems with the development of the kidneys. It has also been found to cause neural tube defects.
Consequences that affect both the mother and the fetus include premature labour and possibilities of miscarriage.
Rehydration efforts should include:
- Consumption of Oral Rehydration Solution
- Taking a few sips of water throughout the day
- Not drinking too much water at once as this can further dissolve the salts and sugar in the body
- Drinking fruit juices and decaffeinated tea or coffee
In case of severe dehydration, contact your healthcare provider as you may require IV fluids.
The most highly recommended course of action would be to implement prevention measures before the problem arises. These could include:
- Drinking 3-4 litres of water every day - if you find it hard to do, add flavour to your water by adding slices of lime, ginger, or fruit.
- Avoid strenuous and vigorous exercise (exercise in moderation) which lead to excess sweating
- Eat foods rich in water (fruits and veggies, and soup) and drink juices (but in moderation as they contain a lot of sugar which could adversely impact your health)
- Reduce caffeine intake as it increases the need to urinate which leads to water loss
- Avoid spending a lot of time in the heat or in very hot and humid areas
- Keep your body cool
Remember that dehydration affects not only you but also your baby. It can also reduce milk production in our body which would mean your baby is affected even after birth; it may lead to malnourishment. Keeping yourself hydrated is not as complicated or effortful as it may appear; it can be as easy as keeping a bottle of water next to you at all times during the day and taking a few sips in intervals - the presence of the bottle also may be enough to induce you to drink water. It’s easier to prevent it than to deal with the consequences. If you seem to be facing severe dehydration, do not hesitate to contact your healthcare provider.