Hydration and Exercise During Pregnancy
Hydration and Exercise during Pregnancy
Studies show that just a small amount of dehydration decreases performance capability and motor control, which increases the likelihood of injury. Adherence to medical advice about maintaining adequate hydration levels becomes especially crucial during pregnancy. Even with sufficient fluid intake, pregnant women should not exercise in the hot sun, or out-of-doors during very hot and humid weather to prevent the risk of heat-related injuries.
Though most commonly associated with hot weather, dehydration during exercise also occurs in cold temperatures and at high elevations.
What Water Does for You
Adequate water intake helps you:
- Cool your body
- Maintain a healthy salt and electrolyte balance
- Prevent constipation
- Avoid hemorrhoids
- Prevent injury
How Much Should You Drink?
Don't wait until you feel thirsty to drink, as thirst is not an accurate indicator of hydration levels.
When and How Much to Drink:
- Drink up to 16 ounces of water one to two hours before you exercise.
- During exercise, drink 8 to 12 ounces more water.
- In the hour following exercise, drink up to 16 ounces to fully rehydrate.
This may sound like a lot, but if you are engaged in moderate to strenuous cardiovascular exercise, you'll need that much.
Don't Skimp on Water
You should never restrict your fluid intake just to cut down on frequent bathroom visits, the common plague of pregnancy. You've probably already gotten into the habit of going to the restroom before exercise sessions or arriving early so that you can position yourself where you'll have the most convenient access to the restroom. Such concessions are far better than the adverse effects of dehydration.
The Sweat Rate Formula for Replacing Lost Fluids
Be sure to replace the fluids you lose during exercise. An accurate scale that displays ounces can help you estimate your sweat rate, and assist you in estimating how much fluid you need to drink to replace the amount you lost during your workout. Weigh yourself before and after your workout. Note the difference in ounces. Add to that the number of ounces of water that you consumed during exercise. If the total is less than the amount you started with, be sure to replace at least that amount in the hour after your workout.
If your scale doesn't accurately display ounces, then let the color of your urine be your guide. Pale yellow urine means that you are adequately hydrated. Dark yellow urine indicates that you are not consuming enough water.
What to Drink
You won't need sports drinks with electrolytes; they're needed only for the most strenuous endurance events, which are not advisable during pregnancy. Plain water is fine. Inquire with officials about your tap water to determine if it contains contaminants, and, of course, use a water filtration system if it does. Fitness waters that are slightly flavored are an acceptable alternative to plain water. Steer clear of high-sugar content beverages (especially those containing high-fructose corn syrup), and any that contain chemical additives, such as artificial sweeteners and food colorings.
Safe Use and Re-use of Water Bottles
- When drinking from bottles with valve tops, make sure that you do not accidentally suck in excess air into your gut as you drink, which can cause intense gas-pain and cramping.
- Never drink from a plastic bottle that has not been thoroughly cleaned or that shows signs of overuse.
- Run plastic bottles and caps through the dishwasher before reusing them.
- If you don't have a dishwasher, thoroughly wash bottles and tops with soap and hot water, rinse well, and let air-dry.