Summer is here and it is hot here in North Texas. This is the time of year that I can get numerous calls, texts, complaints from clients about headaches, abnormal amounts of Braxton Hicks contractions, and possible pre-term labor. My first two questions are #1 What has your activity been the last two days and #2 How much water have you been drinking? Most of the time, they have been outside or active with shopping/errands and not drinking much. Occasionally I hear that they have been drinking things with high caffeine or sugar content, both of which can be dehydrating.
Why Is Water Important?
- Our bodies are 70% water, not Dr. Pepper. We need to be replenishing the water used in simple body functions including that lost through urine, bowel movements, and sweat.
- During pregnancy, our blood volume expands 40-60%. Staying hydrated is important for keeping up with the extra blood flow.
- You are using water to create that aquatic environment that your baby is floating and swimming through.
How Can I Tell if I am Getting Enough Water?
- Is your urine a clear, light yellow? If your urine is darker yellow or even brownish and thicker, you are not getting enough water.
- Are you getting headaches? Does drinking two GIANT glasses of water clear it up? Then you were not getting enough. If it doesn’t clear it up, it is a good idea to check your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is higher than your normal or higher than 140/90, contact your care provider right away. The headaches could be related to pre-eclampsia. If your blood pressure is normal for you, then you may be more severely dehydrated. Stay tuned for my tips to get rehydrated.
- Are you having contractions and you are not full term (37 weeks) or you are full term, but they don’t seem productive enough to turn into real labor, try drinking those two GIANT glasses of water to see if they stop. If not, call your care provider.
- Are you having a lot of swelling in your hands or feet? If you are dehydrated, your body will hang onto the water it needs by causing you to swell. This is also another sign of pre-eclampsia, so if this persists, check your blood pressure and/or contact your care provider.
What can I do to make sure that I am getting enough water?
Back when I was a kid, we were told that everyone needed to drink 8 8oz glasses of water per day. Researchers have discovered that a blanket answer is no longer beneficial. Factors like height, weight, activity level, and being pregnant or breastfeeding should factor into that amount. The following are the suggestions that I give to my clients:
- Start out by drinking half your weight in ounces of water. If you weigh 150 lbs, then you should be drinking a minimum of 75 oz of water per day.
- If you drink anything heavy in caffeine or sugar like sodas or coffees, then you should drink two equal size cups of water to make up for it.
- If you are outside, exercising, or engaging in heavy activity, especially if it makes you sweat, add an extra 16oz of water for each hour that you are outside.
- If you are nursing, prone to urinary tract infections, suffering from morning sickness or illness, or have certain other health conditions, your body may need even more fluids.
I found that tracking how much I was getting to drink has helped with avoiding dehydration. I recently was having difficulty with it despite drinking what I thought was enough water. I tested out several apps for tracking my water intake. Some of them wanted you to tell it how much water you are supposed to get. I wanted one that already knew without me having to figure it out. The first one that I tested seemed really low. It was less than what I knew that I normally drank. I was getting my day’s worth by early afternoon and still not feeling hydrated. I did like that it had a setting to remind you to drink water every two hours.
This proved to be my favorite app. It is called Drink Water Reminder. It is available in the App Store for iPhone. You can adjust the settings based on gender, height, weight, activity level, and whether you are pregnant or nursing. This app was telling me to drink twice what I was getting with the previous app. It also has an adjustable timer, so that you can set how often you wanted to be reminded to drink. Since I have been using this app, I have had a lot less issues with getting dehydrated.
Not a fan of water? Need a little bit of flavor? Add fruit or herbs to your water. I found a recipe for cucumber, lime, mint water in a magazine a long time ago. I liked it and use it when I want to do something different with my water. This is the season for water containing foods as well. Watermelon, celery, and cucumbers all contain lots of water and are great for you. When I was a student midwife, I heard the saying, “A watermelon a day keeps the swelling away.” If I get too dehydrated, water itself won’t get that headache to go away. I end up drinking two coconut waters to get rehydrated. Brand is important when it comes to coconut water. I can’t stand the cheap Vita Coca brand that you see in places like Walmart. My two favorite brands are Zola and Zico. They both come in a variety of flavor options. Sodium deficiency can mimic dehydration. If you don’t eat out a lot or eat processed foods, you may need to add extra salt to your diet. This needs to be a good pink Himalayan salt not a cheap table salt. Adding the salt in will make you crave more water and also help your body absorb and retain the water it needs.
Do you have trouble staying hydrated during the summer? Do you have any tips on things that help you? Share your tips below.