Your fluid needs are greater when you are pregnant. This has to do with the fact that your blood volume increases during pregnancy and your body’s water compartments grow substantially. On top of all this, your growing foetus needs a rich supply of fluid to grow, develop and live comfortably in its prenatal environment.
It is therefore important to drink plenty of fluids when you are pregnant, especially in hot weather.
Fluid needs vary from person-to-person and environment-to-environment. However, as a guide, aim to drink around 1 - 2 litres of fluid each day.
Keeping your fluids up will help to ensure you and your unborn child stay well hydrated. Fluids also play an important role in keeping you regular when a high fibre diet is being followed. Irregular bowel movements, although not dangerous, is an inconvenience common to many mothers-to-be.
What drink is best?
Around 50-60% of our body’s weight consists of water. Water is needed for every cell and organ in our body to function. It is constantly being removed from our body through excrements, sweat and breathing. Therefore, it is really important to replace it on a regular basis.
Water is well absorbed by the body and it is a real thirst quencher. Drinking water straight from the tap is fine in most regions of Australia and New Zealand.
The taste of tap water can vary from region to region, depending on the type of treatment used to purify it and make it fit for human consumption.
If you do not like the taste of the tap water in your area, try drinking bottled water instead.
An important aim is to try and drink 1-2 litres a day. Feel free to drink more than this – pregnant women often need more to keep well hydrated, especially in hot weather. And don’t be tempted to cut back on your fluid intake just because you need to urinate more often.
Can I replace water with other fluids?
Yes, when it comes to meeting your fluid needs, there are several alternatives to water:
Milk is a highly recommended drink for mothers-to-be because it is rich in calcium and protein. Skim milk contains as much calcium and protein as the full cream variety, but less fat and kilojoules. If you cannot tolerate milk, try a calcium-enriched soy drink. Aim to drink around 1-2 cups of milk or calcium-enriched soy drink each day to boost your calcium and fluid intake.
Fresh fruit juice
Fresh fruit juice is rich in vitamins but it can contain more sugar than you need. Try diluting your fresh fruit juice 50:50 with cold water or mineral water. Fresh fruit juices should not be confused with ‘fruit-flavoured drinks’ or drinks containing concentrated fruit juice (e.g. fruit cordials, fruit drinks or sparkling fruit mineral waters). These latter types are usually low in vitamins and have a high sugar content.
Soups and broths
Soups and broths count as fluids. However, as most commercial (i.e. canned and packet) soups and broths have a reasonable sodium (salt) content, it is not the best idea to rely on having too much soup to meet your fluid goals.
What about caffeinated drinks and alcohol?
Drinks like coffee, tea and cola drinks contain caffeine and too much may cause problems in pregnancy. Therefore, health authorities suggest limiting your intake of caffeine to 200mg daily when you are pregnant, which is equivalent to 4 cups of medium strength tea; 3-4 cups of instant coffee; 2 cups of ground coffee.
Not drinking any alcohol at all is the safest approach during pregnancy. This is because alcohol passes into your bloodstream and then into the growing fetuses bloodstream. Alcohol can harm your unborn child, so it’s best to avoid it all together during these 9 months.