Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Needed, but as always all opinions are my own.
Did you know that the average adult is made up of 60% water and that breast milk is more than 80% water? Now you know why hydration is so crucial during pregnancy and postpartum!
However, water is only part of the hydration equation. Your body is also made of electrolytes such as potassium, calcium, chloride, and magnesium that are essential for proper bodily function. These electrolytes help with your body’s fluid regulation, muscle contraction, and nerve communication carrying messages from your brain to the rest of your body. If you are drinking enough water, but do not have enough electrolytes to send this water to different areas of your body you may still feel dehydrated!
So both adequate intake of water AND electrolytes are needed – especially if you are working out during pregnancy and postpartum when your body is working hard! This is why I highly recommend adding an electrolyte mix, such as Needed’s Hydration Support (use code DRMAEHUGHES), to your water at least once per day. Let’s talk about it a little more!
During pregnancy, your body goes through various changes that affect your hydration needs. The increased blood volume, higher heart rate, and greater water demands of the developing baby all contribute to higher fluid requirements.
Additionally, postpartum recovery can be physically demanding, with increased fluid needs for healing from birth, breastfeeding, and restoring pre-pregnancy hydration levels. Birth is tough on your body and caring for a newborn is even MORE physically demanding.
When you throw exercise during pregnancy and postpartum into the equation – there are even more factors than can impact hydration such as exercise intensity, duration, and climate.
It’s important to understand these factors and ensure adequate hydration to prevent the risks of dehydration, such as overheating, muscle cramps, and compromised exercise performance.
Working out during pregnancy or postpartum is already hard enough and without proper hydration you may be doing yourself a great disservice.
First and foremost, proper hydration helps to improve exercise performance and endurance. When you are well-hydrated you can prevent fatigue and support optimal muscle function, which allows you to safely and effectively complete your workouts. Growing and caring for a baby is already exhausting, you do not need the fatigue from dehydration adding to your exhaustion!
Proper hydration also helps to regulate your body temperature and prevent overheating during exercise which is particularly important during pregnancy when the risk of heat-related illnesses is higher. Hydration also aids in post-workout recovery by replenishing fluids lost through sweat and supporting tissue repair – thereby reducing the risk of muscle cramps and promoting faster recovery.
Beyond exercise, staying hydrated during pregnancy and postpartum also has overall health benefits for both you and your baby by helping to support healthy blood circulation, kidney function, digestion, and your baby’s development!
Starting workouts well-hydrated helps to ensure optimal performance and reduce the risk of dehydration during exercise. If you are pregnant or postpartum, you should prioritize hydrating before your workouts by consuming water and electrolytes or other fluids at least 1-2 hours before exercise. Drinking water with meals and snacks, and monitoring urine color can be good indicators of your hydration status!
During exercise, it’s important to drink enough fluids to replace the ones lost through sweat and maintain your hydration. General guidelines suggest consuming about 7-10 ounces of fluids every 10-20 minutes during exercise, and adjusting based on your individual needs, exercise intensity, and climate. Water is usually the best choice for hydration, but I often recommend adding an electrolyte-rich supplement or drink for longer or more intense workouts.
Replenishing fluids after exercise is essential for rehydrating the body and promoting recovery. You should aim to drink fluids as soon as possible after exercise, ideally within 30 minutes to an hour. This is when I recommend adding an electrolyte pack to your water to ensure you are replenishing your electrolytes to help restore fluid balance and support tissue repair.
My favorite electrolyte mix is Needed’s Hydration Support packs (use code DRMAEHUGHES) because they contain magnesium, chloride, sodium, potassium and trace minerals without any sweetener! I cannot stand super sweet and sugary electrolyte packs, and this is the only one I have found that is not loaded with added sugar.
Remember, when you exercise, you are breaking down muscle and in order for that muscle to recover, repair and grow, you need sufficient hydration and nutrition!
If you are breastfeeding you already require higher levels of water and electrolytes, but if you are breastfeeding AND working out, you really want to stay on top of your hydration.
Not only do you need to replenish fluids lost through sweat during exercise, but you also need to replenish electrolytes lost through milk production. Breast milk is primarily composed of water, therefore when you are feeding your baby you are simultaneously dehydrating yourself! If you have ever breastfed then you know the insatiable desire for water or fluids is REAL!
This is why staying well-hydrated is so strongly reinforced if you are breastfeeding, especially, if you are working out. A common myth floating around on the internet is that exercise will decrease your milk supply, but this is not completely true. It is the inadequate hydration and caloric consumption that is often a byproduct of exercise that may cause a decrease in supply – not the physical exercise itself.
So how do you know if you are adequately hydrated or potentially overhydrated?
It is estimated that nearly 3 in 4 Americans are dehydrated! Dehydration can lead to symptoms such as:
Overhydration, on the other hand, can cause symptoms like:
To ensure optimal hydration during pregnancy and postpartum fitness, consider the following essential tips:
If you have learned anything from this post it is that we could ALL (whether you have ever been pregnant or not) benefit from being more intentional with our water and electrolyte consumption.
Especially as moms or soon-to-be moms, it is easy to place all of our focus on caring for our baby, but caring for your baby starts with caring for YOU.
I know I am more patient, understanding, and kind to those around me when I am taking care of myself by fueling my body with proper nutrients and daily movement. So here’s the little push you may need to grab your favorite water bottle (or only water bottle) and get to drinking!