According to the Institute of Medicine, pregnant women need to drink ten 8-ounce glasses of water per day. When you’re breastfeeding, that daily intake should increase to thirteen 8-ounce glasses per day.
Most people are familiar with the 8×8 rule for daily water intake: eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. But when you’re pregnant, your body needs extra fluids to produce extra blood and amniotic fluid.
A good intake of water will keep all your internal systems running well and helps your body remove waste. Waste in the kidneys dissolves in water and is flushed out via urine. This lowers your chance of urinary tract, bladder, and kidney infections.
The same goes for solid waste: Water softens the stool and makes bowel movements easier. If you’re like most pregnant women, you’ve probably experienced some constipation as a result of the hormonal changes in your body. Keep drinking and you’ll be less likely to develop another common pregnancy ailment: hemorrhoids.
Like everything else about you, your water needs change from trimester to trimester.
- First trimester. In the first trimester, many moms find that keeping anything down is hard work. Monitor your water intake to make sure you aren’t losing more than you’re ingesting. (Hint: Adding something salty to your diet sends a message to your brain to hold onto water reserves to maintain proper fluid balance. While you don’t want to overdo your salt intake, you can safely nibble on salty crackers.)
- Second trimester. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that women increase their calorie intake by an extra 340 calories per day when they enter the second trimester. Employing the guideline to add
1–1.5 mL of water for each calorie consumed, you’d need to add at least another 340 mL (or 11.5 ounces) of water to your diet, too.
- Third trimester. In the third trimester, your calorie intake should increase again to 450 calories above the normal daily recommendation, requiring you to drink even more water.
Dehydration happens when you lose more fluid than you take in. Your body will signal that it doesn’t have enough water to carry on as usual. Here are the signs you should look out for:
- Thirst and hunger. If you’re dehydrated, you may feel thirsty, hungry, or both.
- Changes in urine. When you’re sufficiently hydrated, your urine is a pale-yellow color. Meanwhile, dark urine signals dehydration. If you’re pregnant and sufficiently hydrated, you may feel that you’ve taken up permanent residence in the bathroom.
- Fatigue, dizziness, and headaches. Pregnancy is hard work, so it’s not surprising that you’re feeling tired a lot of the time, especially in those first months. Dehydration can cause both fatigue and headaches, so keep drinking to conserve the energy you do have.
- Brain fog. There’s a name for that foggy brain that comes with pregnancy: momnesia. But while momnesia is part of the deal, you don’t want to make it worse by not drinking enough. Your brain is powered, in part, by water. Being dehydrated by just 2%
impairs your ability to carry out cognitive tasks.
- Dry skin. Pregnant bellies are already itchy at times. Keep yourself hydrated so dry skin isn’t another reason for discomfort.
If you’re finding it hard to drink 80 ounces of water a day, try changing the type of water you’re drinking. Here are a few go-to options:
- Tap water. The water supply of most cities is tested to meet safety standards, so you can usually drink straight out of the faucet without concern. But if you live in an older home and suspect it may have lead pipes, get your water tested just to be safe.
- Seltzer or carbonated water. Both seltzer and carbonated water are safe during pregnancy. The bubbles will add a zing that may just help with nausea.
- Mineral water. Mineral waters are generally safe but shouldn’t be consumed daily. What’s more, mineral water can be high in sodium salts — too much could lead to swelling.
- Flavored water. The upside: Flavored water is better than soda. The downside: Flavored water often contains sugar or some other form of sweetener. The conclusion: Avoid these unless you can’t stomach another glass of water.
Some days, you may need some help to reach your daily dose of water. Here are some tips to keep you drinking:
- Add flavor. Add a dash of flavor to your water with a slice of lemon, cucumber, mint, or some berries.
- Try herbal teas. Brew a jug of your favorite tea to keep on hand. Just be sure to run the ingredients past your doctor first.
- Make a smoothie. Smoothies can be a great way to up your nutritional intake. Beware, though: Fruit smoothies pack a lot of sugar, so it’s best to enjoy them in moderation.
- Keep a bottle on hand. It’s much easier to track your water intake when you have your own water bottle on hand. When you reach for a sip, remember to take two.
- Start your day with a glass. Drinking water first thing when you wake up can be a good way to make a habit of drinking water.
- Eat seasonally. Some of your fluid intake naturally comes from foods, so try to eat foods with high water content. In the winter, whip up a soup. In the summer, opt for watermelon, pineapple, melon, and other juicy fruits.