Staying hydrated is important for everyone, but even more so if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Water is essential for general health and functioning of the body, especially during these times. When your body loses more fluid than it takes in, dehydration occurs. This can occur from not ingesting fluids, strenuous exercising and sweating, or overheating. It’s best to drink at regular intervals throughout the day; if you wait until you’re thirsty to drink something, you’re already starting to become dehydrated. Let’s discuss hydration during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Pregnancy
The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink 12 to 13 8-ounce glasses of water a day. It can be daunting to try and drink that much, so try to fill up a water bottle and keep it with you all day so it’s always on hand. By maintaining your hydration during pregnancy, you can help alleviate constipation, reduce the risk of UTIs and hemorrhoids, lessen swelling, and reduce headaches and tiredness. Water also aids in the development of the placenta and amniotic sac. Drinking enough fluids isn’t just good for you; it’s essential for the baby, as well.

If you’re nauseous and find that drinking a lot of water exacerbates the nausea, just sip it slowly during the day. You might try fruit-infused water, or even some ginger ale, which is not caffeinated (just be mindful of calories and sugar). If you’ve been throwing up and not keeping anything down, severe dehydration is a possibility. Call your midwife; depending on the situation, she might recommend that you go to the hospital or birth center for intravenous fluids.

Your urine is a good way to check your hydration during pregnancy, while breastfeeding, or anytime, really. If your urine is dark and concentrated, you’re dehydrated. It should be very pale to clear.

Breastfeeding
Although one might assume lactating women need even more fluids, according to the Institute of Medicine on KellyMom.com, there is no specific amount of fluid one should drink while breastfeeding. It’s enough to drink to satisfy thirst – but this can be difficult, especially in the early days of motherhood, when there’s so much going on, you’re sleep deprived, and taking care of this tiny human. It’s easy to forget about your own needs and sort of “check out” of your body. Pay attention to your body’s signals, and make sure that you’re taking care of yourself by eating and drinking on a regular basis. As in pregnancy, you’re hydrated enough if your urine is pale or clear.

Contrary to what some people believe, increasing your fluid intake will not increase your milk production. All fluids aren’t created equal, though. Water is the best thing for hydration, as opposed to caffeinated drinks like coffee or soda. If water is too bland, you can try some of the flavored waters that are out, or adding some fruit. Caffeinated drinks can actually dehydrate you further, since they’re diuretics. You can also get fluids from things like vegetables, fruit, and soups.