We’ve all heard that it’s important to stay hydrated. But how much water should you drink during pregnancy? Does that 8 glasses a day rule still apply? And do other liquids count, or just water?
Once again, something that has always felt pretty simple, is suddenly complicated when it’s part of pregnancy or lactation. Let’s dive into the recommendations, and learn some tips to make this habit stick.
What Happens if You Get Dehydrated?
Let’s start with the end in mind. Why do we care about water intake? Because dehydration is so detrimental to pregnancy.
Serious complications of dehydration include kidney stones or urinary tract infections, swelling, low amniotic fluid, birth defects and preterm birth.
Signs of dehydration include headaches, sluggishness, being overheated, and dark colored urine (think: the color of apple juice).
While avoiding dehydration is the ultimate goal, there are so many benefits above and beyond that.
Why is Water Important During Pregnancy?
Your baby is literally swimming in water! Amniotic fluid and blood are primarily water, and most reactions in the body occur in water. In addition, water is a main way that your body eliminates toxins (through urine).
Water can help improve digestion, which includes relieving constipation. Additionally, being well-hydrated can reduce swelling in hands and feet, prevent dry, itchy skin, and help reduce muscle cramps and headaches. In addition, water helps regulate body temperature and can reduce the risk of preterm labor.
How Much Water Should You Drink During Pregnancy?
Short answer: You need about 100 oz of fluids per day during pregnancy. That’s 10-12 cups of fluid or 2.3 liters.
Notice that I said fluids here, and not water. Water is not the only source of hydration. You can get fluids from other liquids, and even from many foods.
Don’t Forget to Factor in Sweat
If you sweat more, you need more fluids. During exercise or summer months, it’s important to have a hydration plan. Avoid overheating by having water around at all times.
What Else Can You Drink Besides Water?
Good news, there is so much more than just plain water!
- Flavored or sparkling waters. There are so many new choices here, as sparkling water has really taken off. But also think about infused water. Add the core of a pineapple, fresh mint, berries, or cucumbers to your water. Consider a piece of ginger or citrus if you’re struggling with nausea.
- Tea and coffee. Go easy on the caffeine, but both coffee and tea count towards fluid intake. Look for decaf fruit and herbal teas that work well hot or cold.
- Kombucha and mocktails. The antithesis of boring, try a kombucha or mocktail at your next happy hour (or Zoom gathering). You still want to watch the added sugars, but this is a great option for fun.
- Broths and soups. Hydration is an added bonus of bone broth, one of my favorite sources of glycine (a conditionally essential nutrient during pregnancy). Try a soup as a hydrating meal.
- Milk. I’m always going to recommend cow‘s milk first for the nutritional benefits, but soy milk or pea milk are good alternatives. While the nut and oat milks are very popular, the nutrients are sub-par. They do still count as fluids, though 🙂
- Fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget that fruits and vegetables have a high percentage of water in them. A slice of watermelon on a summer day will hydrate and satisfy just as well as a glass of water. Spring and summer vegetables tend to have more water content than fall and winter vegetables, but let’s not split hairs!
How Can You Get More Water into a Day?
Ok, so you’re sold on meeting hydration needs, and even found a few suggestions on other beverages. You now how much water you should drink during pregnancy, but how do you make this an actual habit? Here are some suggestions.
- Pre-fill your water bottles… Fill up a water bottle before bed and put in the fridge. You’ll start the next day ready to go. Consider leaving multiple water bottles filled up around the house so you’re never far from your next sip.
- …and keep them full. When you finish a bottle or glass, fill it back up immediately. You’re much more likely to drink it if it’s right there.
- Keep it in plain sight. Put your water bottle on your desk, at your bedside, or wherever else you find yourself during the day. Making it visible makes it an easy choice.
- Get a new bottle or straw. Make drinking water more fun with a new water bottle or fun new reusable straws. Let your personality shine. The $20 or so you invest could make a huge difference.
- But first… water? Before you reach for your cup of coffee, get in an 8-oz glass of water. Same goes for before each meal. The goal here is to tie eating (something you are already used to doing) with hydrating (the new habit).
- Track it, baby. What gets measured, gets improved. If you’re serious about upping your fluids game, find a way to keep track of how you’re doing. Digital or analog doesn’t matter, just choose something that works for you.
- Sip slowly. I get it. You’re already going to the bathroom ALL. THE. TIME. during pregnancy. By sipping slowly on your water, your body absorbs more, and you’re less likely to have the sudden urge to pee. You’re welcome.