5 reasons why you should be drinking water for you and your baby – Hydration for pregnant women
Pregnancy is a blissful and magical thing. It takes some time for pregnant women to become used to the fact that there is a little human being growing inside them. Amidst the flood of changes, you may be overlooking a key element to you and your baby’s health: hydration. Drinking plenty of water may not be as instinctive as quitting smoking and drinking. But less instinctual does not mean less important. Here are five reasons why you should be drinking water for you and your baby.
1. Water is needed to form amniotic fluid.
Amniotic fluid is an almost-clear fluid found in the amniotic sac surrounding the growing baby. The amniotic fluid has several important roles in helping the baby grow. It acts as a cushion to protect the baby from physical injury and allows the baby to move around in the uterus, aiding bone and muscle development. When the baby breathes in and swallows the amniotic fluid, it is practicing breathing while exercising its digestive system. When the amniotic fluid first forms, it is 98% water from the mother’s body. This explains why women will tend to feel thirsty in the first trimester of pregnancy. However, as signals from the body can be a bit hectic during pregnancy, it is probably a better idea to track your hydration instead of solely depending on thirst to guide your water intake habits.
2. Water supports the increase in blood plasma volume.
Pregnancy will have various effects on your including blood volume and blood components. (Read more in detail about the effects of pregnancy on the cardiovascular system.) You will see your blood plasma increase by 40 to 50 percent, while your red blood cell concentration will increase by 20 to 30 percent. This facilitates the exchange of gases and nutrients between you and your baby and minimize the impact of blood loss during delivery. The increase in plasma volume will kick in at around six weeks, so pregnant women are recommended to drink water to support this increase.
3. Water can help prevent constipation.
Research shows that three out of four women have bowel-related disorders during pregnancy, and constipation is one major culprit. The main reason behind this constipation is an increase in the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the digestive tract and other smooth muscles of your body. In addition to eating a high fiber diet and exercising routinely, increasing fluid intake can help prevent or treat constipation. Adequate hydration may also help alleviate your stress and anxiety, two other contributors to constipation.
4. Water is a good substitute to less healthier sources of hydration.
Overconsumption of drinks with high levels of caffeine or sugar are generally a bad idea during pregnancy. First of all, high blood sugar levels increase the risk of gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that only happens during pregnancy. The condition may increase chances of certain complications including early labor and low blood sugar for the newborn baby. (Read more about gestational diabetes.) On the other hand, excessive caffeine may contribute to problems such as premature labor, miscarriage, and birth defects. So when in doubt, you should choose water over unhealthy beverages to quench your thirst. But keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you need to completely rule out other drink options. (Read about the 9 healthy juices you should drink during pregnancy.)
5. Water is necessary to rehydrate after breastfeeding.
If you are planning to breastfeed your baby, then your hydration pattern should also be adjusted after pregnancy as well. Breastmilk is 88 percent water and while drinking more water does not necessarily lead to increased breastmilk production, breastfeeding your baby may lead to secretion of about 700 mL of water daily. That being said, it’s important to continue to pay attention to your body after pregnancy for your own health. (Read about breastfeeding benefits for mother and baby.)
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you should be drinking water for you and your baby! Drinking water can be a difficult habit to develop but it is definitely worth the effort. The Natural Hydration Council suggests that pregnant women drink 300 mL more and lactating women drink 700 mL more than pre-pregnancy amounts. Start right now. Get a glass of water and say cheers to you and your baby’s health! Now, remember that drinking too much water at once is not too good of a choice either. Read this to find out how to stay hydrated all day long.