We all know that pregnancy brings cravings for certain kinds of food, like, for example,
chocolate. But pregnancy can cause the reverse as well. That is, make us take in less of
certain kinds of ‘food’. Such as water.
When you consider the fact this is a phase where the mother needs more – and not less – of nutrition (including water), you realise why this can be a cause for concern – both for mother and baby.
How do you spot a case of dehydration?
Well, it isn’t difficult. From a parched feeling in the mouth to chapped lips to shrunken skin to less frequent urination calls to a feeling of exhaustion to reduce sweating to constipation, this is a condition that manifests itself in many ways. In more extreme cases, the heart will beat faster, blood pressure will fall, the baby’s movement patterns may change and there can be spells of confusion and light-headedness. In certain cases, things have been known to turn fatal, and the ‘candidate’ has even gone into a coma.
So why does dehydration happen in pregnant women?
Well, just like the symptoms, the reasons, too, are multiple in number. The biggest reason is the pregnancy makes additional demands on the body. Women need to be aware and alert to it, and respond by drinking more water than usual. Bulimia and other diet disorders may bring on a bout of dehydration as well. Medical conditions like vomiting and diarrhoea – where the body expels nutrients including water – can also bring about a need to in-take more water. Finally, certain food groups like caffeine, salty & fried snacks, alcohol, high-sugar drinks, white asparagus, soy sauce and cured meat can cause body water levels to fall.
Is dehydration harmful for someone who is pregnant?
Well, it can certainly turn out that way. While mild forms are not usually dangerous – and can be tackled simply by quickly ‘re-charging’ the system with a couple of glasses of water – more intense forms must be avoided. If unchecked, dehydration can lower the level of amniotic fluid, adversely affect breast milk production, impact the development of the baby by causing nutritional deficiencies and even lead to preterm labor. We have already seen other conditions and situations that may arise, too.
How does a pregnant women deal with this, then?
The most obvious and most powerful way of combating dehydration is to drink more water, period. Especially if the weather is hot, one has an active physical routine, and is prone to certain types of foods that we have discussed. If the condition persists despite taking these steps and precautions, it’s a good idea to consult a professional or physician.
Pregnant mothers! Make sure you have your 10 glasses of water a day. And look forward to the joys of childbirth.