Overview of dehydration during pregnancy
Dehydration is the result of inability to retain appropriate level of water in the body due to excessive fluid loss and ingesting insufficient amount of water. The water which serves as the universal solvent of the body plays an important role for liquefying the blood and promotes proper circulation. However, there are several conditions that can occur to pregnant women which may lead to massive fluid loss. One of the common conditions is hyperemesis gravidarum (maternal condition which is manifested by excessive vomiting) that can lead to the occurrence of symptoms of dehydration. This condition affects 20 – 35% of pregnant women who has hyperactive reproductive hormones.
What are the symptoms of dehydration?
Fluid volume deficit is the main cause of dehydration. A pregnant mother who fails to meet the required daily allowance for appropriate amount of water ingested in a day might suffer from dehydration. There are several symptoms of dehydration which are commonly verbalized by the pregnant women. This includes:
- Verbalization of feeling thirsty;
- Frequent urination especially at night (normal response due to the compression of the expanding uterus to the bladder);
- Feeling dizzy and drowsy that can lead to nausea and vomiting.
The symptoms of dehydration can be easily diagnosed by the doctor because pregnant mothers discuss what they have experienced during the course of pregnancy. The important of sufficient physical assessment can also confirm the condition.
The relationship of signs and symptoms of dehydration
On the other hand the signs of dehydration are different from what is being verbalized by the pregnant mother. These manifestations are highly observable. Everything that a doctor or nurse can observe through thorough physical assessment can determine the current condition of the mother. Below are the common signs of dehydration:
- Poor skin turgor (inability of the skin to go back to its normal state after it is being pinched);
- Excessive sweating (sensible fluid loss);
- Increasing fluid intake;
- depressed eye orbit;
- Cracking of the lips and skin;
- Dark-colored urine;
These manifestations are also common even to regular adults. The initial signs of dehydration begin with the body’s defense mechanism against fluid volume deficit which is thirst. If a pregnant mother becomes thirsty easily, the body stimulates the brain to respond with the low level of water in the body and as a result, it commands the body to drink water.
Appropriate treatment for symptoms of dehydration in women
The most prescribe dehydration treatment is to increase the fluid intake. However, the pregnant women must avoid drinking caffeinated products. Caffeine is considered as diuretics which intensifies the urination process that can lead to massive elimination of the fluid. If in case that the cause of dehydration is due to severe vomiting; the replacement of fluid loss plus the electrolytes such as potassium and sodium is needed. There are cases wherein pregnant mothers who suffer from severe dehydration will be required for hospitalization and intravenous fluid replacement.
Based on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) suggestion states that pregnant women must have at least 10 cups of fluids in a day. However, the suggested amount will still depend on the factors that are present in the pregnant women. This includes:
- Environment and weather
Most pregnant women suffer from dehydration because of weather. During hot season, the pregnant mother perspires a lot. In order for them to meet the fluid loss due to perspiration, they need to increase the amount of water intake in a day. Ideally, the recommended amount is 10 – 12 cups a day.
- Height and weight of the mother
The body size of the mother will also be used as a determinant for the appropriate amount of water intake. The heavier the mother, the more water they need to ingest.
The activity of the pregnant women will also influence the amount of fluid intake. An active pregnant mother will require more drinking water compare to less active pregnant women.
Proper dehydration treatment must address the given factors. These factors are determined during the prenatal visit. The doctor provides sufficient intervention to minimize the occurrence of dehydration. The impact of this condition to the baby is highly morbid. The baby’s nutrient, oxygen, and blood supply depends on the ability of the mother to acquire sufficient nutrients. This includes the water. The severity of dehydration can affect the health condition of the baby and several complications such as premature rupture of the membrane, premature delivery, low birth weight, and other maternal conditions that can alter the normal labor process and delivery of the baby.
Health teaching regarding the possible manifestations of dehydration is very important for the pregnant mother. Interventions involved the participation of the family because reinforcement and support system is needed for the prevention of dehydration to pregnant mothers.