(A huge thanks to Intern Ellie for stepping in as guest blogger. Check back soon for more fabulous entries from her!)
Staying hydrated during Minnesota summers can oftentimes seem like a chore. We’re forced to transition from shivering 60-degree days, breaking out our fall coats, to days of blistering 100-degree heat, barely keeping our clothes on! Most women know the importance of staying hydrated during pregnancy, although a lot of us rarely get enough liquids unless we’re intentionally monitoring our H2O intake.
We recommend that, at a minimum, pregnant women drink half of their body weight in ounces. For example, if a woman weighs 140 lbs., she would want to drink 70 oz. of water a day, or about 9 glasses, kicking up the intake even more during heat waves and exercise. It seems like a no-brainer that pregnant women need more water than the rest of the female population, but it is important to understand why we’re always pushing the fluids.
During pregnancy, the body’s blood volume increases by 50% to help with the changing pregnant body and to help supply the amniotic fluid. During the first 9 weeks of gestation, the mother’s blood plasma is continually filtered to create the supportive and vital amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid helps the baby to grow symmetrically, prevents tissues from sticking together, protects against infection and trauma, and allows the fetus to swim and develop their muscles and lungs. After 9 weeks gestation, the fetus helps to filter the amniotic fluid by drinking and peeing the fluid at a comparable rate, with the fetus urinating about once an hour (Saladin). However, babies still need their mothers to help supply about a cup of water every hour from their stored fluids.
Inadequate fluid intake can lead to dehydration, which in pregnancy is related to pre-term labor, fatigue, constipation, and even miscarriage. Drinking continuously all day long, not just when you’re feeling thirsty, can ward off dehydration and its uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous side effects. It is also important to avoid substituting water with sugary and caffeinated beverages, which can actually cause dehydration.
If you’re like me, you might have a hard time drinking all of that H2O. Some tricks I use to add a little excitement to my water bottle are adding a splash of orange juice or lemonade, and keeping fresh lemons, limes, and cucumbers around for a refreshing garnish and flavor boost. You can also try mixing it up a bit by drinking sparkling water, putting a straw in your glass, drinking pregnancy teas (nettles, red raspberry leaf, etc.), adding an Emergen-C packet, sipping on all-natural Recharge, or even freezing a water bottle to bring in the car so you’ll have deliciously cold water on these blistering hot days.
Ellie Kahn, TCM Intern
P.S. Water intake is not only important during pregnancy, but for breastfeeding as well. Staying hydrated helps with milk production and maintaining supply. It can also help alleviate some breastfeeding discomforts such as blocked ducts and mastitis. A helpful hint: keep a glass of water next to your favorite breastfeeding spots as an easy reminder!
Saladin, Kenneth S. “Human Development.” Human Anatomy. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2008. 113. Print.