One, you need to be practicing weeks and months prior to the marathon! Anyone who runs without training will get injured after the race.
Two, your body needs to be nourished and in top condition before and during the race. Days leading up to the marathon, long-distance runners will load up so they don’t run famished on the day of the race.
And most importantly, marathoners are hydrated throughout the race. Why would an expecting parent need to know this information?
The fact is, your body during labor requires all these same things to perform effectively. It’s not different from any other athletic event! Our body needs to be at its peak, and it’s our job to give all the hydration and nourishment it demands.
Hydration throughout pregnancy and during labor should be a common practice at this point, right? But you’ll be surprised to know that some hospitals still hold a policy that forbids oral fluids to low-risk women during labor.
A review by Evidence Based Birth points out the current evidence and professional guidelines all conclude that “People not allowed to drink freely in labor… at increased risk of longer labors by about 1½ hours.”
“Neither the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) nor the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) recommends restricting low-risk women to ice chips or sips of water…”
The Problem With Dehydration
Even people who aren’t pregnant will experience problems if they are dehydrated. Dehydration is our body losing more water than we can take in. And water, whether we are a fan of it or not, helps our body function normally.
Water is essential. And in pregnancy, it’s critical for a healthy mom and baby. Water is used to form the placenta and used in the amniotic sac. These are all essential for the nourishment of your growing baby.
Dehydration during your pregnancy can lead to complications. AmericanPregnancy.Org lists the following complications:
- Neural tube defects
- Low amniotic fluid
- Inadequate breast milk production
- Premature labor
These risks can lead to birth defects because your baby needed more water and nutritional support. It isn’t just about knowing that you need to drink more water, it’s about consciously increasing your fluid intake.
Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration During Pregnancy
A dry throat isn’t the only sign that you’re dehydrated (and not the best measure, really). If you are not drinking enough water during pregnancy, your body will be prone to maternal overheating. Your body will overheat!
Some mild symptoms of dehydration include:
- Dark yellow urine
Severe dehydration symptoms can be:
- Sunken eyes
- Rapid Heartbeat & breathing
- Low blood pressure
- Irritability and Confusion
Pay attention to your body, drink up and rest if you are experiencing mild symptoms. Call your primary care provider if you are experiencing severe dehydration.
Ways To Avoid Dehydration During Pregnancy
The best way to ensure that you are not dehydrated during pregnancy is to consistently get in 8-12 glasses a day. That’s easy, right! But you might be facing some obstacles like indigestion and morning sickness. Here’s how you can ensure you’ve met your water requirements:
- For Indigestion – drink your liquids between meals not during, to help avoid indigestion.
- For morning sickness – causes you to vomit which in turn can lead to more fluid loss. Drink plenty of water when you aren’t feeling nausea.
Avoid activities that can lead to overheating of your body. Spending a lot of time in a hot place or doing strenuous exercises may add to the heat.
Avoid caffeine which makes you urinate more! Water is the ideal liquid to hydrate, but also get in as many liquids as you can through soup, milk, natural fruit juices, and pregnancy tea.
Drinking Water During Labor
Like our marathon analogy above, it’s important to enter your labor time already well hydrated. Starting dehydrated will exhaust you faster.
Keep drinking especially during the early phases of childbirth. Continue to hydrate as often as you can until your baby is born.
Our midwives at Casa Natal recommend that you bring with you a secure water bottle that can hold over 8 oz. of water. Ideally, the bottle should come with a straw, because when in labor at Casa Natal, you may be sitting, standing, or floating! Having a straw with the bottle makes it easier to hydrate. If anything, hydration is the key to success. Drink up, mama!