Why You're So Thirsty During Pregnancy
Can’t seem to get enough to drink? Thirst is actually one of the earliest signs of pregnancy (so if you’ve been hoping for two pink lines, it may be time to test!) and one that may stick with you during the entire nine months. Why? Women experience heightened thirst in pregnancy because your body simply needs extra fluids as it supports baby’s development, so it’s important to stay hydrated. If you’re feeling like you’ve just stepped out of the desert all day every day, here’s what your body might be telling you.
“It’s entirely normal to feel extra thirsty during pregnancy, even during the first trimester,” says Donald Grant, MD, ChB, DRCOG, MRCGP, a general physician in Bristol, UK, and the clinical lead at The Independent Pharmacy. “Around the time other early symptoms of pregnancy start to show, increased thirst often accompanies them.” And although many of the other first trimester pregnancy symptoms may ease up as time passes, thirst in pregnancy is likely to stick around and even increase as the weeks pass.
What’s not normal? Insatiable thirst that lasts all night and day and doesn’t go away even after drinking plenty of water. Extreme thirst in pregnancy could be a sign of other medical conditions. Keep reading to learn more.
We’ve all heard the phrase “eating for two,” but why does it suddenly seem like you’re drinking for two as well? The easiest and most common explanation is that you are! When you’re pregnant, Grant says, your body needs more fluids than usual to support baby’s blood circulation, maintain a healthy level of amniotic fluid and keep up with your own higher blood volume. Another possible reason for your thirst in pregnancy? You may be feeling hotter and sweating more these days—both common side effects of growing a tiny human, but which can increase your need for fluid intake.
Causes of Excessive Thirst in Pregnancy
If you’re experiencing excessive thirst in pregnancy, it could potentially be due to a more severe condition, such as:
• Gestational diabetes. In rare cases, extreme thirst in pregnancy could be a sign of gestational diabetes, says Kecia Gaither, MD, an OB-GYN and maternal fetal medicine specialist and director of perinatal services for NYC Health+Hospitals/Lincoln. But in most cases, gestational diabetes doesn’t cause any symptoms at all—that’s why every pregnant woman gets tested for it.
• HELLP Syndrome. HELLP Syndrome is a rare condition that occurs when a pregnant woman’s liver enzymes become out of whack, and calls for close monitoring until baby is delivered. Aside from excessive thirst, other symptoms can include fatigue, nausea and vomiting, and pain in the upper right part of your abdomen.
If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor, who can help get to the bottom of what’s causing them and guide you on proper treatment.
The best thing to do if you’re feeling thirsty during pregnancy? Why, drink up, of course! As a rule of thumb, drink until your thirst has been quenched, says Grant, and avoid the temptation to cut back on water in order to cull those never-ending trips to the bathroom, he adds. “Instead, try sucking on ice throughout the day to increase your fluid intake naturally. Eat fewer salty foods, and instead consume juicy fruits and vegetables with high water content to help keep you hydrated.”
It’s critical that you stay hydrated during pregnancy. In fact, pregnant women are encouraged to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day, Gaither says. If you don’t drink enough fluids, you run the risk of becoming dehydrated, which can lead to complications such as low amniotic fluid, insufficient breast milk production and even premature labor, says Grant. “These, in turn, can lead to severe birth defects for baby, including brain damage or spina bifida,” he adds.
According to Gaither, signs of dehydration include:
- Dark, strong-smelling urine
- Uterine contractions
To stay on track, keep a bottle of water close by—your purse, your car and your work desk are great places to stash water—and if needed, set an hourly reminder to get those ounces in! If you’re pregnant during the summer months, it’s even more important to keep water nearby at all times. If you’re struggling to drink the recommended amount of water during pregnancy, consider investing in a water bottle that measures how much water you’re drinking.
Updated February 2020
Donald Grant, MD, ChB, DRCOG, MRCGP, is a general physician in Bristol, UK, with more than 30 years of experience. He serves as the clinical lead at The Independent Pharmacy, an online pharmacy service in Great Britain that advises on common medical conditions.
Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, is a double board-certified OB-GYN and maternal fetal medicine specialist in New York City with more than 20 years of experience. She serves as the director of perinatal services for NYC Health+Hospitals/Lincoln.
Plus, more from The Bump: