Summer Letter 2013
Now that warm weather is here, I think back to that August in Atlanta when I was pregnant with my son 11 years ago. It was so hot! I remember coming home from work, closing the shades, turning on the air conditioner, stripping down to a T-shirt and shorts, and putting a bag of ice on my head. Fortunately, I drank a lot of water, and that likely helped me maintain energy and carry my son 10 days past his due date.
During hot summer months, it’s easy to become dehydrated during pregnancy and not even know it. The result can be contractions and preterm labor. This time of year, at the hospital where I work, we treat many “early birds” or preterm pregnant women with IV fluids and oral hydration and then send them home with instructions to drink more water. The Institute of Medicine recommends pregnant women consume 10 cups of fluid each day. In hotter climates or if you are very physically active, you may need even more. Urine should appear pale yellow or even colorless.
Often, patients ask for options other than water to fulfill their fluid requirements. While water is the best choice, fluids from clear broth, coffee, tea, juice and soda technically count as well. However, it’s wise to limit caffeine during pregnancy, and soda has empty calories and artificial sweeteners. If you really like juice, reduce the calories by diluting it with sparkling water. If you have trouble drinking plain water, squeeze in a little lemon or lime or a pinch of mint.
Good hydration during pregnancy helps prevent preterm contractions, constipation, fatigue and urinary tract infections. So, remember the importance of fluids during these sweltering summer months. Fill a container with your goal for the day and enjoy! You’re doing your body – and your baby’s – a world of good.
Linda Ciampa, RN