Why is rehydration important during pregnancy?
As much as water is of key importance for people of all age, pregnant women should pay special attention to regular hydration. In pregnant woman’s body water has additional functions.
During pregnancy, body weight increases, in normal circumstances up to 12 kg. Major part of that consists of water, since total amount of water in pregnant woman’s body increases from 6 to 8 liters.
From the start, total blood volume increases (up to 50% more than before pregnancy) and placenta forms that consists of 500 ml (85%) of water. Fetus is located in amniotic fluid whose volume varies from 500 to 1200 ml. Amniotic fluid protects the fetus and represents the water supply that should be made up for with sufficient intake of this precious fluid. The fetus itself consists of 75-90% of water.
Insufficient fluid intake may lead to lighter or heavier consequences for the mother and child, Morning sickness and vomiting may increase the tendency for dehydration. If the pregnant woman has less water in the body, she is more prone to body overheat, because water is of key importance in thermoregulation. Beside unpleasant hot flushes and sweating, which decrease the amount of water in the body, in the first trimester congenital neural tube defect or miscarriage may occur. Later, low amniotic fluid may cause fetal growth retardation, premature labor or complications during the labor. Water is of key importance for the removal of harmful substances formed during both mother and child’s metabolism, so dehydration may cause problems with liver and kidney function both in mother and child.
First symptoms of dehydration in pregnant women are weariness, hot flushes, darker urine and constipation. To avoid dehydration, 8 to 12 glasses of fluid should be drunk daily. EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) prescribed women to consummate at least 2 l of fluid during the day, and pregnant women at least 300 ml (1 do 2 glasses) more than that. In case of increased fluid loss due to sweating, physical activity, vomiting and some pathological states, the needs may be much bigger.
Besides that, beverages that contain plenty of sugar and caffeine should be avoided, because they have diuretic effect, that is, they cause increased water loss from the body through urination. Special attention should be paid during summer months due to high ambient temperature and in the cases of lower air humidity when the body needs more water.