How Much Water Should You Drink During Pregnancy?
Drinking the recommended amount of water every day can be difficult in general. We are supposed to get 11.5 cups of water a day between our food and drink, 20% of which should come from food. This works out to the 8 cups (64 fluid ounces) a day we are used to hearing about. But for pregnant people, it can be even more.
During pregnancy, you should drink eight to 12 glasses, or 64–96 fluid ounces, of water per day, says Rebecca L. Simon Quigley, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn and acting assistant professor of maternal fetal medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, adding that this is the amount recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Why Do We Need So Much Water During Pregnancy?
One big reason getting enough water during pregnancy is so important is that your body needs to create the amniotic fluid that surrounds and protects the fetus, explains Simon Quigley. “The added water is also needed to help the kidneys function properly so they can remove toxins from the blood and modulate electrolytes,” she says. Electrolytes, such as magnesium, sodium, and potassium (among others) help maintain the fluid balance in our cells and keep our muscles functioning well.
Extra water is necessary because your body is making more blood for both you and the baby. “There’s an increase in blood volume—close to a 50% increase—during pregnancy,” Simon Quigley says.
The extra blood volume helps carry nutrients around the body for the benefit of you and the baby, says Angela Perri, a registered dietitian nutritionist at UPMC Magee Women’s Hospital, in Pittsburgh. If you’re taking a prenatal vitamin (as ACOG says you should), that extra blood will help dissolve the nutrients and carry them to where they’re needed in the body, she adds.
Drinking more water can also make pregnancy a little more comfortable. “It can help relieve constipation, which is very common in pregnancy,” says Simon Quigley. “Another benefit is that it can decrease the risk of urinary tract infections.”
The Risk of Dehydration During Pregnancy
It’s important to be particularly conscious of getting enough water during pregnancy if you’re experiencing morning sickness. Vomiting can cause the body to lose water and electrolytes. “That’s when [you] are most at risk of dehydration,” Perri says.
The good news, says Perri, is that keeping hydrated can actually reduce nausea and vomiting. So, even though it seems counterintuitive, drinking water during pregnancy can help you keep fluids and food down.
However, if large amounts of water make you queasy, you may need to resort to taking small sips. Adding citrus fruit to your water can also make it more tolerable and help with nausea. If it’s not possible to keep fluids down, then it’s time to call the doctor, since dehydration during pregnancy is dangerous to both you and the baby.
Perri says it’s important to recognize the signs of dehydration:
- Feeling thirsty
- Feeling weak
- Underproducing urine
- Urine that is intense yellow or dark brown in color instead of pale yellow
Dehydration during pregnancy can not only make you feel sick but also lead to premature contractions, Simon Quigley says.
What to Drink
“Water can be one of many fluids,” Simon Quigley says. However, she does recommend against sugar-sweetened beverages like soda or sweetened tea. “Over the course of a day, they can add up to significant additional calories from that sugar,” she says. “And that can be a problem, especially for women with gestational diabetes or those who are at risk of the condition.”
For those who find water boring, Simon Quigley suggests adding fruit for flavor. Decaffeinated tea is another hydration option, she says. “Sparkling water can also be good, though it can be a problem for women who have bad gastroesophageal reflux,” Simon Quigley says. “The carbonation can make the reflux worse.”
If you’re having a hard time getting enough to drink, try snacking on fruits like watermelon that naturally contain a lot of water. “Having several servings a day can add to the hydration tally,” Simon Quigley says.
You may also notice that guzzling water doesn’t help with the pee problem: Pregnant people already need to urinate more frequently, and this urge increases in the later stages of pregnancy as the growing baby puts additional pressure on the uterus. Limiting the amount of fluids you drink after dinner can at least ensure a better night’s sleep, which is good for everyone.
Don’t Overdo It with the Fluids
While it’s important to stay hydrated during pregnancy, it’s also possible to have too much of a good thing, Simon Quigley says. Drinking excessive amounts of fluid can disturb some of the electrolytes, especially sodium. “I caution against having more than 96 ounces (12 glasses) a day,” she adds.
Don’t Stress Over Your Sips
As with any other time, it is possible to become dehydrated if a pregnant person exercises a lot in the heat or the weather is particularly hot and humid, says Simon Quigley. In either of those cases, you’ll need to drink even more water to avoid dehydration during your pregnancy.
But for the most part, a pregnant person in good health with normal kidney function and manageable morning sickness will consume the right amount of fluids simply by listening to their body, Simon Quigley says. It may be helpful to always keep a water bottle around to sip when the urge hits. Cheers to that!
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