Can Dehydration Affect Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, dehydration is more common than at other times. Most cases of dehydration in pregnancy are mild, but severe dehydration can be dangerous for both the mother and the baby.

Symptoms of dehydration during pregnancy

Generally, the first sign of dehydration is feeling extremely thirsty. People who feel thirsty after sweating or spending long periods of time in the heat are likely to be dehydrated.

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Other signs of dehydration during pregnancy include:

  • a dry feeling in the throat or mouth
  • dry-looking skin
  • less elastic skin that looks sunken or thin
  • less frequent urination
  • dry, chapped lips
  • feeling weak or exhausted
  • feeling dizzy
  • dark-colored urine
  • constipation, hard stools, and hemorrhoids
  • urinating less often
  • not sweating, even in hot weather

Some people may experience Braxton Hicks contractions when they are dehydrated.

Some signs of more severe dehydration during pregnancy include:

  • a racing heart
  • dizziness and confusion
  • changes in the baby’s pattern of movement
  • low blood pressure which may cause fainting

Severe dehydration can cause shock and organ failure. It may also harm the baby.

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Causes of dehydration during pregnancy

The causes of dehydration during pregnancy fall into two general groups:

Not drinking enough water

Pregnancy places extra demands on the body. Pregnant women generally need to drink more water than they did before they got pregnant. Someone who is physically active or who lives in a hot climate will sweat more and will need more water intake. People with eating disorders like bulimia, may be more exposed to dehydration.

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When dehydration happens because of insufficient intake of water, it is often easy to fix by just drinking more water, especially in the early stages of dehydration.

Not absorbing enough water

Some medical conditions like diarrhea and vomiting can make it hard for the body to absorb the water it requires.

Nausea and vomiting are more common during pregnancy than at other times. Those with hyperemesis gravidarum, which occurs in 3 percent of pregnancies, may experience forceful vomiting that causes weight loss and dehydration.

Other health issues that affect metabolism, can cause dehydration. These include:

  • kidney failure
  • some rare metabolic disorders
  • intestinal disorders such as Crohn’s diseaseor celiac disease that make it difficult to absorb nutrients

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People with an primary medical condition are at an increased risk for dehydration in hot weather, following intense exercise, or when they do not drink enough water.


Mild dehydration is not particularly dangerous in pregnancy as long as the person quickly gets enough fluids. Extreme dehydration can be dangerous for both the mother and the baby.

Dehydration can lead to lower levels of amniotic fluid, which can negatively affect the development of the baby, lead to preterm labor, and can affect breast milk production.

Dehydration can cause deficiencies in nutrients that are essential for the health of the pregnant person and the developing baby.

When to go to the hospital

If symptoms did not improve after drinking water or an electrolyte, call an obstetrician or midwife. Anyone who is pregnant should go to the hospital for dehydration when they:

  • begin to bleed or leak fluid
  • feel the baby’s pattern of movement changes
  • experience contractions that may be a sign of premature labor
  • have already been diagnosed with a serious medical condition, such as kidney failure
  • experience vomiting or diarrhea for longer than 12 hours
  • have stopped sweating in spite of drinking fluid
  • are producing very little or no urine
  • faint, have a seizure or feel confused

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Those who have hyperemesis gravidarum or another medical condition should discuss with their doctor when it is time to go to the hospital.

To treat dehydration, fluids may be given through a needle in a vein (IV). Some people who are dehydrated may also require electrolytes, such as sodium and magnesium, to help them properly absorb fluids.

Preventing dehydration

Dehydration can be prevented by increasing fluid consumption until the urine becomes clear or very pale yellow. Always carry a water bottle or taking frequent water breaks.

People who exercise or spend time outside in intense heat should drink more water.

Certain foods can cause a person more likely to experience dehydration, including caffeinated foods or drinks. It is essential to drink lots of water when consuming these foods.

Prenatal care is essential in preventing dehydration. Dehydration is often due to an underlying condition, such as a metabolic problem. A doctor can help prevent this condition from causing dehydration.


Disclaimer: The content provided on is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.


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