Keep drinking while exercising in pregnancy

Keep drinking while exercising in pregnancyThe importance of keeping well hydrated when you’re pregnant and exercising.

Public health nutritionist and adviser to the Natural Hydration Council Dr Emma Derbyshire gives us her top hydration tips for exercising during a healthy pregnancy.

For many women, early pregnancy is a time of reappraisal of behaviour, nutrition and lifestyle to ensure that their unborn child has the best and healthiest start in life.

Most pregnant women are likely to pay more attention to living healthily, exercising a bit more and eating a healthy diet than they did prior to pregnancy but there is a chance that they may still overlook a key element in antenatal well-being; hydration.

Adequate hydration is especially important when exercising whilst pregnant to help meet the physiological changes that occur during these important phases of the life-cycle.

Dr. Emma Derbyshire says: “Water is often regarded as the ‘forgotten-nutrient’, yet it makes up around two-thirds of our body weight [1] with demands increasing further during pregnancy.

“When pregnant, it is important to eat a balanced diet, take light exercise regularly and drink adequate amounts of fluid.

“The average amount of fluid a pregnant woman should be drinking will increase by 0.3 litres (300ml per day)[2], equating to about one to two extra glasses of water each day during pregnancy.

“A pregnant woman should have a drink of water before exercising and aim for 150-350ml every 20-30 minutes during exercise” [3].

“Pregnant women should always stop exercising if they begin to feel more breathless than normal, become very warm or feel uncomfortable.”

Dr Derbyshire’s top hydration tips for mothers-to-be:

  • Whilst pregnant women can meet their body’s requirements from other drinks, water is one of the healthiest ways to hydrate, as it has no calories, sugar or caffeine
  • Women should aim to increase their total water intake by an extra 300ml perday during pregnancy over and above the 2000ml/day (2 litres) of total water intake recommended by EFSA [4].
  • Breastfeeding women should make sure that they are getting enough fluids and should aim to increase their total water intake by an extra 700ml per day over the 2000ml per day of total water intake recommended. Try to remember to keep a glass of water on hand when you sit down to feed your baby.
  • Looking after a new baby can be a busy time but it is important to drink regularly to help you feel at your best.
  • Foods can contribute to your daily water intake. Those with a high water content; for example, melon, soups, stews, fruit and vegetables, will make the greatest contribution.
  • Pregnant women should try to drink water little and often during exercise, as drinking large volumes of water at any one time may be uncomfortable for a mother-to-be due to bladder expansion.
  • Drinking plenty of water can help relieve the symptoms of constipation, which around 32 per cent of pregnant women are affected by, especially during the first and second trimesters [5].
  • You may need to drink more water if you are in hot and dry environments.


  • Jéquier E & Constant F (2010) Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 64(2):115–23.
  • EFSA (2010) Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for water. EFSA Journal 8(3):1 45 9.
  • ACSM/ADA/DC (2000) Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: nutrition & athletic performance. Med Sci Sports Ex 32(12): 2130-45.
  • EFSA (2010) Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for water. EFSA Journal 8(3):1 45 9.
  • Derbyshire EJ et al (2007) Changes in bowel function: pregnancy and the puerperium. Dig Dis Sci 52(2):32 4-8
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