Water in pregnancy

Water is an important part of everyone's diet, but can you drink any water when you're pregnant, and how much is safe per day?

Water – hydration is even more essential in pregnancy Most of us don’t drink enough water – fact. For a start, we tend to walk around only reaching for a drink when we feel the thirst, and then we might often have a coffee or tea, or another beverage filled with unneccessary toxins, instead of something which is going to efficiently rehydrate us.

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Not surprisingly, during pregnancy it’s important not to let yourself get dehydrated because this might bring on a dizzy spell. It also helps your body work better at processing all the other nutrients you’re taking in for you and your baby.

Interestingly, drinking water helps fight water rentention, too. Regular intake means your body isn’t worried about clinging on to what it’s got!

Why water?

Not only is water generally healthy, tests have shown it is vital to ensure good hydration to increase the amount of amniotic fluid around the fetus, to flush out the system and decrease the chances of common urinary infections, to serve the increasing volume of blood in your body and to rehydrate you when you sweat. (You are more likely to get hot as the baby grows and your blood supply increases.)

Some scientists believe that not drinking enough water can be a contributary factor in babies being breech, compression of the umbilical cord and increased concentration of meconium in the fluid.

OK, so how much should I drink?

Pregnant women are advised to drink more water in a day than other adults. The World Health Organisation sets this at about 4.8 litres a day (and 5.5 litres a day when you are breastfeeding). Don’t overdo it much beyond this as it can be dangerous to drink too much water.

It isn’t always easy to remember to drink this amount so whether or not you go for tap or bottled water, carry the water around in a bottle so you can see at a glance how much you’ve drunk.

Try to drink steadily through the day, especially if the extra pressure of the baby is making you feel full most of the time. And think about eating grapes, cucumber etc – foods that will add to your water intake and keep you feeling refreshed.

Tap, mineral, purified – what’s best?

In the UK, most tap water is safe to drink. UK standards for purifying general water supplies are excellent and it would be very rare to find any taps served by lead pipes anymore. (Lead used to be a danger because it leached into the water, but awareness of this over several decades has meant that pipes have gradually all been replaced.)

If you are staying somewhere where you are unsure about the safety of the pipes (for example in a very old property which doesn’t look like it’s been updated, or on a campsite), don’t be afraid to ask the owners for more reassurance.
Don’t think that the taste is a guide. Depending on soil and other environmental factors, some area’s water will be sweeter than others. In some places, the water might even be a little brown, but again, this isn’t a worry if you can see that the water supply is well maintained – it’s simply down to the local natural make-up of the source.

If you are still doutbful, boil and cool water for drinking or use a water jug with a good (and regularly changed) filter.

Bottled water is not always any safer to drink than your tap water. ‘Pure’ water still comes from the ground and may not have benefitted from things like flouridation – a process used for tap water to ensure the health of bones and teeth.

Spring water comes directly from a natural spring and is simply cleaned up to remove dirt. Mineral water comes from the ground too, of course, but can contain high levels of various minerals which can be a little too excessive in pregnancy.

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There are no specific bottled waters which are banned in pregnancy and most will be fine. Their taste might make you drink more often too, if it’s more pleasant to you than tap water. But given that you should be drinking a lot more water, try to drink the less ‘mineral heavy’ bottled waters, where possible. Evian, for example, is a good one to drink.

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