Signs Of Dehydration In Pregnancy
Signs Of Dehydration In Pregnancy: We’ve all heard that you should drink eight glasses of fluid per day when you’re pregnant (and if you want your baby to develop normally and stay healthy while he’s inside you). But how much is enough? And what happens if you don’t get enough?
Dehydration can happen quickly and easily, so it’s important to know what causes it and watch out for these warning signs.
The average woman needs about two liters of fluids per day — more during pregnancy. This means drinking lots of water, tea, juice and other liquids containing calories like milk, coffee, soda, alcohol and even some prescription medicines. It also means avoiding drinks with caffeine, which can cause increased thirst as well as heartburn and bloating.
You’ll need to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients from food as well. The American College of Obstetricians recommends eating foods rich in calcium, iron, zinc, folic acid and vitamin D to help prevent anemia and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. You may have to take extra supplements, too, depending on your diet.
But just because you’re supposed to drink more doesn’t mean you always will. Some factors affect how much fluid you actually need to drink. For example, your body composition affects how much space there is available for fluids to fill up your cells. If you have more muscle than fat, you’ll naturally hold onto more water. As a result, you won’t necessarily sweat as much. Also, whether you’re exercising depends on how much water your body already has in its cells. If you’re not working out, you probably won’t need as many fluids.
So, how do you tell if you’re hydrated? Read on to find out.
If you haven’t been keeping track of how much you’ve been drinking, you might think you’re doing fine until you notice you’re starting to look pale. That’s one sign of dehydration. Another is a dry feeling in the throat or mouth. Dryness may indicate that you’re losing saliva due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy. Your doctor can give you a complete rundown of what’s normal and what isn’t.
Warning Signs of Hydration Problems
Hydrating yourself properly is essential for good health. When you become dehydrated, you lose energy, which makes it harder to meet daily tasks. So, having trouble finding the bathroom regularly or noticing you’ve stopped sweating could be signs that you need to pay attention to.
Here are some common symptoms of dehydration:
- A dry feeling in the throat or mouth.
- Dry eyes.
- Trouble swallowing.
- Muscle cramps.
- Frequent urination.
- Less frequent bowel movements.
- Cravings for salty snacks or sugar.
- Low blood pressure.
- Sudden weight loss.
- Excessive tiredness.
- Loss of appetite.
- Decreased urine output.
These are only general symptoms, though. They aren’t specific to dehydration and they vary widely between people. If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor. He or she can suggest tests to monitor your hydration level.
One simple test is to check your urine color. A dark yellow color indicates the presence of excess urea, which occurs when you haven’t been drinking enough fluids. An amber color, however, is normal; it shows that you’re well-hydrated. Urine pH should also fall within a certain range: 6.0 to 8.5. Normal urine is slightly alkaline, but if it’s acidic, it could be a sign of dehydration.
Your doctor may order additional tests to confirm dehydration. These include checking levels of sodium in your blood called serum osmolality, plasma volume, total protein, albumin and hemoglobin. Sodium helps regulate the amount of water in your bloodstream. Low levels of sodium can lead to low blood volume, which results in dehydration. Plasma volume measures the amount of fluid in your blood. Total protein determines how efficiently your kidneys filter waste products. Albumin and hemoglobin measure your red blood cell count. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body and are responsible for transporting carbon dioxide back to your lungs.
If you suspect dehydration, see your doctor immediately. He or she can offer treatment options, including oral rehydration solution (ORS), intravenous therapy and medications to correct imbalances in electrolytes. ORS solutions contain salts, sugars and minerals dissolved in water. Intravenous therapy involves giving fluids directly into your bloodstream through a needle inserted into a vein. Electrolyte imbalance can sometimes be corrected using IV fluids.
To avoid dehydration, you must maintain a steady flow of fluids and nutrients.
To learn more, visit the links on the next page.
There are two types of dehydration: hypovolemic and hypervolemic. Hypovolemic dehydration occurs when you lose too much water and the blood becomes thick and sticky. This type is often seen in older adults, whose bodies slowly lose their ability to hold on to water. Hypervolemic dehydration, on the other hand, occurs when the blood volume increases excessively, leading to swelling of tissue and organs. This kind usually happens in people who suffer from kidney disease or liver failure.
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Prenatal Nutrition.” http://www.acog.org/Prevention_Wellness/FirstVisit/Pages/PregnancyNutrition.aspx. Published January 15, 2012. Accessed March 13, 2012.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “What Is Diarrhea?” http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/diarrhea/default.htm. Published February 28, 2010. Updated December 20, 2011. Accessed April 19, 2012.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “What Causes Constipation During Pregnancy?” http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5900a1.htm. Published February 28, 2010. Updated September 30, 2011. Accessed April 19, 2012.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Urinary Incontinence.” http://www.cdc.gov/Features/SexuallyTransmittedInfections/2010/fluidintolerance.htm. Published February 28, 2010. Updated November 23, 2011. Accessed April 19, 2012.
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