Hydration is important during pregnancy. As we move into the warmer months here in Tucson, dehydration during pregnancy becomes even more of a concern. In our dry climate, it is easy for us to lose more water than we take in. Especially during pregnancy. In Arizona, we often sweat without realizing it. The heat and dry climate can often cause the sweat to evaporate off our skin before we even feel that we’ve been sweating.
During pregnancy, your blood volume will increase by almost 50 percent. As a result, the levels of circulating hormones are higher than when you are nonpregnant. One of these hormones is the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin, commonly known as “the love hormone” is also responsible for stimulating uterine contractions during pregnancy and birth. During lactation, oxytocin is responsible for the “let down reflex” and plays a role in mother-infant bonding.
Dehydration during pregnancy will cause your blood volume to decrease.
This decrease raises the circulating levels of the hormone oxytocin, and will often cause contractions. In addition to causing contractions, dehydration can also lead to constipation during pregnancy.
We see dehydration lead to contractions during late pregnancy with regularity during our Tucson summers. As you near your due date the receptor sites in your uterus that are stimulated by oxytocin begin to multiply. The number of these sites increase along with an increase in oxytocin due to dehydration. As a result, the uterus begins to contract. Ask any L&D nurse in town. During the warmer months, the triage unit begins to fill with those who think they might be in labor. This also tends to happen just as the sun begins to set on A Mountain. The usual course is to hook you up to a contraction monitor, give you a large glass of water and monitor you for an hour while being encouraged to drink the water. For many, the contractions will subside with the hydration and you are sent home.
So how do you combat dehydration during pregnancy?
Most of us assume that we are drinking enough water. Most of us are usually wrong. Especially in the Tucson summers! In general, you should aim for 10-12 cups of water/fluids each day. That’s 80 – 96 ounces a day. For many that can feel like a lofty goal. The trick is to get creative!
When hydration is fun and stylish your hydration goals are easier to achieve.
So to start, pick out a new water bottle! Among my favorites are the double wall, insulated bottles or cups. I like my water ice cold and in the Tucson heat, it’s hard to keep water that cold all day. My favorite bottle/cup brands are S’Well and Hydroflask. But a fun bottle is only part of the equation! Now you need to remember to drink! If you love technology like I do, consider a fun addition to your water bottle. Ulla is a fun gadget that takes the work out of remembering to hydrate. If it’s been more than 40 minutes since you last took a drink, this cute hydration band will blink. If you prefer to be more discreet consider using a smartphone app like Daily Water for iOs or Water Drink Reminder for Android.
There are many options to add a splash of flavor to your water. From lemon to lime, citrus or basil, experiment to find the flavors that appeal most to you.
Have fun. Drink plenty and remember to add a little extra water to your daily goal when you spend a little extra time in the sun!