Last week marked the ninth week of pregnancy for Jane*, a 27-year-old accountant in Dar es Salaam. She had been grappling with nausea and vomiting, feeling fatigued and very sick almost all the time. It’s her first pregnancy.
She told me her situation wasn’t getting any better. Water couldn’t pass past her throat. She could vomit everything. She was relying on anti-emetic tablets in keeping the nausea and vomiting at bay. She was getting weaker day by day.
However, the one thing she forgot to do—and in fact the most important, was to find alternative ways of rehydrating herself. She took the first step to narrate her ordeal to me only after it kept getting worse. By that time, her urine was deeply coloured and she could urinate little.
It was obvious she needed help and the first thing was to quickly rehydrate her with intravenous fluids but encourage her to continue taking plenty of fluids.
Upon being rehydrated, she felt so relieved and her nausea was already disappearing. But it took me some hours to convince her there was the psychological aspect of the nausea that she had to fight off, followed with a big lesson about the importance of water or staying hydrated during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, water or fluid intake is very key for the body, so it’s important for them to make that extra special effort to keep hydrated. Staying properly hydrated greatly improves chances of having a safe and normal pregnancy and a healthy baby after delivery.
In case of morning sickness that’s causing the vomiting, it’s important to try drinking plenty of fluids every moment the pregnant women doesn’t feel nauseated.
In cases of extreme morning sickness that make it impossible to keep any fluids down, a doctor’s intervention is needed, refer to what Jane did.
If not avoided, dehydration during pregnancy can prompt what we call Braxton-Hicks contractions—the tightening of the uterus that usually only lasts a minute or two, especially in the second or third trimester.
Apart from making effort to rehydrate, a pregnant woman should keep away these issues that are likely to cause dehydration:
• Vigorous exercise, particularly if the weather is warm.
• Intense diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, excessive sweating.
In case of symptoms such as dry, sticky mouth, sleepiness, feeling thirsty, decreased need to urinate, headache, constipation and dizziness, visit the doctor.
If the urine turns dark yellow, it’s another sign you should worry about. Clear urine means you are hydrating well.
Therefore, during pregnancy, dehydration can be a worrisome thing. Water is used to form the placenta, which passes nutrients to your growing baby. It’s also used in the amniotic sac.
[* Not her real name]