Before I got pregnant, I knew and understood the importance of drinking enough water or fluid everyday. We are advised to drink about 1.2 litres of fluid, which works out to be about six 200ml or eight 150ml glasses. This is because most of the chemical reactions that happen in our cells need water for them to take place as they should. Water is also needed for our blood to carry nutrients around the body and get rid of waste. As much as I tried pre-pregnancy, I doubt I drank that much everyday, some days were better than others. However, when I got pregnant, things changed completely because it was no longer just about me but also my baby.
Pregnant women typically need to drink between eight to twelve 250ml glasses of fluid everyday, this amount should increase if the weather is warm and during exercise. Caffeinated and high-sugar beverages do not count and can actually be dehydrating, so are best avoided. The importance of keeping your body hydrated during pregnancy cannot be overemphasised; here are a few reasons why:
- Drinking the appropriate amount of water everyday prevents dehydration during pregnancy. This is perhaps the biggest reason to keep yourself hydrated as dehydration can lead to pregnancy complications, including preterm labour. It is believed that even mild dehydration can trigger uterine contractions in pregnant women.
- Water aids digestion, ensures your body absorbs the essential nutrients from the food you eat and facilitates transportation of nutrients to your unborn baby.
- Water aids in flushing out toxins (yours and your baby’s) from your body system and diluting urine to prevent urinary tract infections, which are usually very common in pregnancy.
- The amniotic fluid that surrounds your unborn baby needs to replenish itself every hour by using approximately one cup of water from what is stored in your body. Replacing that water ensures your baby is protected within the womb.
- During pregnancy, your blood volume can increase by up to 50%. As such your body needs water and fluids to accommodate such increase and to prevent hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.
- Due to increase in pregnancy hormones, your body begins to retain water. Interestingly, drinking plenty of fluid can help fight against excessive water retention and prevent you from looking puffy. Constant flow of fluid will hinder too much water accumulating in areas prone to this, such as your ankles.
- Drinking enough water during your pregnancy would help combat dry skin as you would be hydrated from inside out; it would also improve your complexion and reduce acne breakouts.
- Drinking enough fluid everyday helps prevent constipation and haemorrhoids, two of the most annoying conditions you could get during pregnancy.
How can you increase your daily intake of water and fluids?
- The easiest way I did this was to carry a 1 litre bottle of water with me everywhere I went. This ensured that I drank water no matter what and kept myself hydrated whilst out and about.
- If you dislike the taste of plain water, why not try adding lemon or lime wedges to your glass of water.
- You can increase your fluid intake by eating watery fruit and vegetables, such as watermelon, lettuce and cucumber. Unsweetened fruit juices, smoothies, stews and soups can all help you stay hydrated whilst also providing you with a healthy source of nutrients.
- Never get thirsty as thirst is a symptom of dehydration. Other symptoms include dry mouth, dizziness, urinating less frequently and cracked lips.
- Rather than drinking more than two glassfuls of fluid in one go, ensure your fluid intake is spaced out through the course of your day, as too much fluid taken at once can flood your system.
Always remember that whatever you ingest, your unborn baby gets a taste of too. Take good care of yourself.
Kunbi Okanlawon is currently studying for a PhD in medicines Research. She is an expert in Pregnancy and Childcare, General wellness and healthy eating. She is also a communication expert and freelance writer.