Fill Up on Fluids
Water is a nutrient that is just as important as macronutrients and micronutrients. Water acts as your body's transportation system to carry nutrients to your body cells as well as your baby's. Water helps to regulate body temperature through perspiration and by transporting oxygen through the body, carrying waste products away from the body cells, cushioning joints, and protecting body organs. Proper hydration before, during, and after is a vital component of a healthy pregnancy.
How Much to Drink
Pregnant women need extra fluid to support their increased blood volume and for amniotic fluid. Because the body has no provision to store water, the amount of water you lose each day must be continually replaced to maintain proper hydration. During both pregnancy and breastfeeding, women should aim to drink eight to twelve 8-ounce glasses of water per day. This may increase if you are perspiring in hot weather, when exercising, or if you have any type of fever, diarrhea, or vomiting. Inadequate water intake can lead to problems like fatigue, muscle weakness, and headaches, just to name a few. For the fetus, dehydration can affect adequate nutrient transport, induce poor waste removal, create too warm an environment, and decrease cushioning. These can all affect fetal growth and development. Being properly hydrated can help to reduce swelling and bothersome constipation. Staying properly hydrated can help you to feel more energized, give you an improved sense of well being, provide greater endurance and stamina during physical activity, and improve your digestion and elimination.
Water contributes close to 55 to 65 percent of an adult's body weight, and during pregnancy your body's water needs expand substantially. Water is present in every part of your body: 83 percent of blood, 73 percent of muscle, 25 percent of body fat, and even 22 percent of bones are made up of water.
The best and easiest way to get your fluids is simply by drinking water. Other fluids that can contribute to your daily intake include fat-free or low-fat milk, club soda, bottled water, vegetable juice, seltzer, and fruit juice. Be careful of drinking too many beverages, such as juice, that are healthy but also pack in a lot of calories. Stay clear of alcohol and most herbal teas, and limit coffee, tea, soft drinks, diet soft drinks, and other caffeinated beverages. If you feel thirsty, your body is telling you that it is already becoming dehydrated, so drink up.
Drink, Drank, Drunk
Like everything else, drinking water should be part of your healthy lifestyle — you should make it a habit. Make a commitment today to start drinking water on a regular basis. You should be in the habit before you even become pregnant. You should start out with a moderate goal and work your way up. It may help to start a water diary on a calendar to keep track of your current intake and your progress. If you need help increasing your water intake, follow some of these helpful tips:
At work or at home, take water breaks instead of coffee breaks.
Keep a bottle of water at your desk, on your counter at home, or in your car when traveling so you have it available to sip throughout the day.
Get in the habit of drinking a glass of water before and with meals and snacks. Besides helping you to stay hydrated, it can help take the edge off of your appetite.
Use a straw to drink your water. Believe it or not, using a straw can help you drink faster and make a glass of water seem a little more manageable.
Drink water instead of snacking while watching television or reading a book.
Keep a two-quart container of water in the refrigerator, and make it your goal to drink it all by the end of the day. This also gives you a constant supply of good, cold water.
It is normal to get thirsty once in awhile, but if you are excessively thirsty and find yourself drinking large amounts of water, this could be a sign of a medical condition such as diabetes. If you feel you are drinking because of severe thirst, as opposed to a healthy habit, speak to your doctor.