Exercise During Pregnancy: Avoiding Dehydration

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Staying Hydrated

It is important for everyone to drink enough water during exercise, but for pregnant women it’s critical. We’ve all heard that we should drink 8 glasses of water each day. Hydration needs during pregnancy are even greater. Water regulates body temperature, cooling the body during exercise.

Becoming overheated during exercise can be dangerous for a pregnant woman. Beyond this, dehydrated muscles become sore and cramp easier, and just don’t perform as well. Exercise quickly depletes a pregnant woman of water. As much as an entire quart of water can be lost during exercise. Dehydration during pregnancy can cause contractions to occur due to concentrated levels of oxytocin.

Pregnant women should drink at least one 8 ounce glass of water before exercise. Follow this with a glass of water every 20-30 minutes. Also, be sure to drink whenever thirsty during and after the workout. If you should experience contractions or muscle cramping, stop exercising and replenish fluids over the course of the next hour.

Regulate hydration levels by checking your urine output. Dark yellow-orange colored urine means that you are dehydrated. You want to drink enough water so that your urine is clear to very light yellow in color. For optimal hydration, divide your body weight in two, and this is the number of ounces of water you should drink each day. While water is the best fluid for hydrating your body, other fluids are acceptable as long as they don’t contain caffeine. Try to drink more water than anything else, but go ahead and count fruit or vegetable juices, milk, and sports drinks toward your daily fluid intake if you like.

Signs of Dehydration

Dehydration is always a risk when pregnant. Exercise increases the possibility of becoming dehydrated. If you notice any of the following signs of dehydration during exercise, stop your workout, rest, and rehydrate. If you continue to experience symptoms after consuming water, call your doctor.

extreme thirst


muscle aches, cramps, or weakness

dizziness or lightheadedness

dry skin and lips

sweating ceases

red-faced and suddenly feeling overheated

uterine contractions

dark yellow urine, little urine output

Tips for Staying Hydrated

Try to stay out of the heat when you exercise during pregnancy. If you live in a hot climate, exercise indoors or work out during cooler times of day.

Start out hydrated. Drink several glasses of water an hour or so before working out, so that you start out well-hydrated.

Cut out the caffeine. Limit caffeinated beverages before you exercise, such as coffee, teas, and colas. Caffeine causes excess urination, which can lead to dehydration.

Snack on fruits. Fruits that contain lots of water are helpful in keeping you hydrated. They also contain beneficial nutrients. Fruits such as watermelon, oranges, grapefruit, peaches, nectarines, papaya, kiwi, and strawberries are great choices.


1. Yale-New Haven Hospital

2. Babyfit