April 23, 2024
Extreme Thirst during Pregnancy

Extreme Thirst during Pregnancy: Gestational Diabetes? 6 Causes & 7 Best Way to Ease

Do you feel like you are always thirsty and craving to drink more water than usual? Drinking eight glasses of water per day is considered normal, but expectant mothers often crave more and possibly need a little more. You may need to take a look at excessive thirst and pregnancy to see if there is a connection.

Extreme thirst during pregnancy could be a passing phase like many other curses pregnant mothers experience. You may have already experienced morning sickness, getting tired quickly, food cravings, and other foods you used to love that now smell and taste awful. Most of these symptoms disappear as your progress through your pregnancy.

If your excessive thirst doesn’t go, it is probably time to dig a little deeper. Here, I will talk about what might be causing excessive thirst, how to deal with it, and if you should contact your doctor.

What Causes Thirst?

Thirst is your body’s way of telling you it is getting dehydrated. It prompts you to get a drink to replenish the body’s water levels. It is a normal part of life unless it does not go away even when you know you have drunk enough.

An unquenchable thirst is also known as polydipsia and could be caused by undiagnosed diabetes. If you feel thirsty constantly, it would be a good idea to have a visit with your family doctor or your gynecologist.

Is Extreme Thirst a Normal Part of Pregnancy?

You can expect your need for water to increase when you are pregnant. You will notice many future moms reporting wanting to drink more water. If you are having this feeling and are not sure if you are pregnant, you may want to use a home pregnancy test and check.

Desiring more water while you are pregnant is normal. Think about how your body is changing. Your body has gone into overdrive to help grow a child in your womb. That takes additional resources, including more water.

If you feel your thirst is too extreme, you may need to talk with your doctor to double check if it is caused by your pregnancy or another medical issue.

What Causes Increased Thirst during Pregnancy?

The primary cause could be simple. Your body may need more water to support your increasing weight and the baby’s growth, but this may not be the only cause. If you think your thirst is out of control, it could be caused by other factors.

This is when you should take the time to visit your doctor and make sure. You do not want to put your or your baby’s health at risk.

1. Changes in diet

Take a moment and consider how your diet has changed. Are you eating more salty foods due to cravings? What about foods that are high in sugar? Do you crave spicy foods?

Little changes in your diet could cause your thirst level to increase. Pay close attention to your diet and see if the foods you eat for meals and snacks are the culprit in your increased desire for water.

Did your increase in thirst start when you began taking your prenatal vitamins or another medication? If so, mention it to your doctor and see if it is normal, or if they would like to make a change on what you are taking.

2. A decrease in blood pressure

Blood pressure frequently drops in expectant mothers during their first trimester. A reduction in blood pressure can signal the body to drink more water to attempt to offset what it believes will help increase pressure.

This is usually accompanied by other symptoms like fatigue, looking pale, feeling lightheaded when you stand up. If you are experiencing these symptoms, do not wait for your next appointment, contact your doctor immediately.

3. Dehydration

Do you feel like you are going to the bathroom all the time? Do you sweat easily? These are both common complaints of pregnant women, and the problems increase with each passing week.

Both of these problems mean your body is using fluid more rapidly, and it needs to be replaced. Becoming dehydrated is easy. This does not take into account the need for additional water which is used to keep amniotic fluid at the right levels.

Also, your baby produces waste, so your body needs more water to get rid of it. In short, you need to drink plenty of water to support your increased needs.

4. Your aching bladder

Your growing baby put pressure directly on your bladder, meaning you go to the bathroom frequently. It also means your body expels fluid faster than before. This causes you to need more water, even though you dread needing to run to the bathroom for the umpteenth time today.

5. More blood equals more need for water

Were you aware your blood volume increases by almost 40 percent when you are pregnant? The extra blood is to support your baby with needed oxygen, nutrition, and the building blocks for its growing body. Your blood is almost 90% water, meaning you need to drink more to support the 40 percent increase.

6. Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes can start during pregnancy. It is a common problem that occurs in a small percentage of pregnant women. Why are we talking about it in an article about thirst? Diabetes almost always causes a dramatic increase in thirst.

You may also experience higher than normal fatigue levels and want to go to the bathroom more frequently, which all sounds like typical symptoms of pregnancy. If your thirst seems excessive, you want to make sure your doctor is aware, because they may want to retest you for gestational diabetes to keep both you and your baby safe.

Common Symptoms of Excessive Thirst during Pregnancy

Do you feel like you are drinking too much? Do you always feel thirsty, so you keep drinking? Here are a few other symptoms you should watch for:

  • Urinating more frequently than before
  • Constant dryness in your mouth
  • Your feet, hands, and ankles are swollen

If these symptoms came on suddenly, you should check with your doctor.

What is the Best Way to Overcome Your Excessive Thirst While Pregnant?

You might hate this advice, but if your body is demanding more water, you should give in and drink. You should stick to water. Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks, drinks high in sugar, and sports drinks.

They can all cause your thirst levels to increase, instead of disappearing. Here are a few tips to overcome your thirst during pregnancy:

  • Keep a bottle of water with you. Take small sips whenever you feel thirsty.
  • Add lemon to your water. It tastes great and can help reduce nausea from morning sickness.
  • Stay away from caffeine and foods high in salt. They both increase your desire to drink and can result in swollen hands, feet, and ankles.
  • Fruit juices and milk are a great alternative to water. They provide fluid and nutrition for you and your baby.
  • This is one idea you may love. Suck on low-sugar popsicles or flavored ice. They provide flavor and fluid without making you feel bloated with water.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are high in fluid, fiber, and vitamins, which can help reduce your thirst.
  • Do you get so busy you forget to drink? You can use a small timer, or download an app on your phone, to remind you when you should drink water.

While you may be tempted to drink less to avoid all the times you need to go to the bathroom, you need the fluid. Dehydration is your enemy during pregnancy. It can cause constipation, early labor, and in extreme situations, it may lead to a miscarriage.

Listen to the advice of your doctor and follow their recommendations on how much fluid you need per day. Do not hesitate to pick up the phone and call your doctor, his assistant, or nurse for advice.

A Few Words of Warning

We previously mentioned gestational diabetes, but we need to repeat the warning. If you start feeling excess thirst and fatigue during your second and third trimester, let your doctor know immediately. Your doctor may want to retest you for diabetes.

Your growing uterus and the pressure it causes on your bladder will cause you to go to the bathroom more often, but it can also indicate the onset of gestational diabetes. If it is accompanied by getting tired easily, make sure you mention it to your doctor.

What is gestational diabetes? It is when your body is not producing insulin in high enough quantities for both you and your baby. Most expectant mothers are tested for gestational diabetes around week 24. If you are feeling symptoms before being tested, or after, make sure to let your doctor know.

Gestational diabetes can easily be treated by changes in diet and proper treatment. If left untreated, it can pose serious risks for both the mother and baby.

Common Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes

Your hormone levels change drastically during pregnancy. This can be the trigger which starts gestational diabetes. The hormones affect how the body reacts to natural insulin.

Insulin is required for the body to convert sugar into energy properly and to maintain proper sugar levels. Many women with gestational diabetes do not experience any symptoms, but you need to be aware of the most common symptoms:

  • Changes in vision. Blurred vision can be caused by diabetes.
  • Dry mouth and increased thirst.
  • Increased need to urinate. This can happen throughout the day and night.
  • Higher susceptibility to infections. You are more prone to repeat bouts with yeast infections.
  • Higher fatigue levels even when well rested.

Gestational diabetes is diagnosed in approximately 2 to 10% of all US pregnancies. Ask your doctor about your risks and when they plan to have you tested. This is especially important if you are experiencing excessive levels of thirst.

Gestational Diabetes Risks

Women who do not obtain treatment for a condition such as gestational diabetes are at risk of a bigger baby usually 9 pounds, sometimes more. This is because most of the excess sugar present in the mom’s blood goes to her fetus.

Bigger babies are also more at risk of suffering an injury during birth through vaginal delivery, as they are more prone to becoming stuck inside the mother’s birth canal.

For this reason, bigger babies are in most cases delivered by a C-section, and also have increased risks of jaundice and breathing difficulties as a newborn.

Diagnosing Gestational Diabetes

In most cases, you will be screened for gestational diabetes from 24 to 28 weeks into your pregnancy. If you already have specific risk factors, then your doctor will usually test you sooner. If this is the case, your physician will typically recommend a glucose-tolerance test also known as a blood sugar test.

This screening will involve drinking a liquid that is high in sugar followed by taking your blood test. If the levels show up high, the doctor will perform another test that is longer, where you will drink more of the sugary liquid where your sugar levels will be tested multiple times to determine if you have this condition.

You are at risk if the reading is higher than 140mg/DL. The condition known as gestational diabetes happens to be somewhat familiar because the body is forced to create a lot more insulin to match your changing needs during pregnancy.

When the body is not producing enough insulin, you might acquire gestational diabetes. This can be controlled by monitoring how much sugar you consume and, in some cases, using insulin injections. If this goes untreated, your condition can result in a larger baby, which will increase the likelihood of having to undergo a C-section.

How to Treat Gestational Diabetes

Most women who develop the condition are able to control their sugar levels by eating healthy foods and exercise. Your dietitian or doctor may give you a customized eating plan which will be based on your food preferences, your weight, and the stage of your pregnancy.

From this diet plan, 10 to 20% of the caloric intake should be coming from protein, 30% from fats, while the remainder comes from complex carbohydrates which include whole-grain cereals and bread. If you are on a diet plan for 2 weeks and your sugar levels have not yet normalized, your doctor will prescribe insulin injections that you will need to take till you give birth.

Research has shown that women that have developed gestational diabetes are also more prone to developing preeclampsia, although the reason behind this is still unknown.

Other Causes of Excessive Thirst

There are various potential causes linked to severe thirst. Some of these include:

  • Sickle cell anemia- this is a blood disorder that is inherited.
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Diabetes insipidus- this is a condition which is caused by an issue with the hormone which regulates fluid levels inside the body.
  • Psychogenic polydipsia- this occurs when an individual suffers from one of the mental health conditions like schizophrenia and they drink water in excessive amounts that cannot be excreted by their kidneys.
  • Diabetes ketoacidosis- this is a diabetes complication that is very dangerous which develops due to the hormone-insulin which is lacking in the body.

Other Weird Symptoms Associated With Pregnancy

1. Heartburn

This condition is prevalent in the last 2 trimesters caused by progesterone. To ease the symptoms associated with heartburn, ask your doctor what antacids are safe to take while you are pregnant. Avoid spicy foods and keep your head elevated.

2. Morning sickness

This condition can occur at any stage in the pregnancy and is usually more common in the morning due to the build-up of acids in the stomach at night.

3. Constipation

This is often more common over the 2nd and 3rd trimester of the pregnancy and is typically caused by progesterone that affects your digestion, iron supplements, the large intestines absorbing a lot more water, or the uterus starting to place pressure on the rectum. To ease symptoms or avoid constipation, you should exercise regularly, eat high fiber foods, and drink more water.

4. A heightened sense of smell

For some pregnant women, specific scents are incredibly overpowering. Certain women may need to avoid these triggers by eating foods that are bland.

5. Exhaustion

Your body undergoes many changes while you are pregnant, which includes changes in your breathing, metabolism, heart rate, along with progesterone levels that continue to increase.

All these changes can result in extreme fatigue, which is more common in the 1st trimester. Fatigue during the 3rd trimester is usually caused by the excess weight you now carry and issues with sleeping correctly.

6. Itching

Itching while you are pregnant is more common in areas such as the breasts and the abdomen due to your skin stretching.

7. Frequent urination

In the earlier stages of your pregnancy, urination that is frequent is usually caused by hormones. In the later stages of the pregnancy, the enlarged uterus will affect your bladder.

When Should You Be Worried about Excessive Thirst during Pregnancy?

When pregnant, your body undergoes numerous changes both outside and inside the body, which is often overwhelming especially for first-time moms. In some instances, feeling like you need to drink a lot more water is a sign that is normal that the pregnancy is progressing as it should.

However, you should still discuss this with a doctor, as they can usually advise you on whether you need to go for further testing or whether everything is normal. Below are a few scenarios where you should definitely see your doctor to assess your extreme thirst levels:

  • If in one of your previous pregnancies you developed gestational diabetes, the chance that you will develop it again is much higher. Ensure you have told your physician about a prior case of this condition.
  • If you experience a sudden feeling of extreme thirst and you see dark yellow pee, then you could be dehydrated.
  • It is common to experience thirst level increases over the 1st trimester as well as in the later stages.
  • When you have increased your fluid intake over a week and it still hasn’t helped
  • When you always feel tired combined with urinating frequently

In the later stages of the pregnancy, it becomes more critical to evaluate your symptoms. If you have noticed that your thirst levels have increased, it may be caused by your uterus that has grown to a much bigger size, creating pressure on an organ like your bladder.

This is often accompanied by having to go to the toilet a lot more than you did during the early stages of the pregnancy.  When your body is always losing fluids through frequent urination, your body will naturally need more to replenish the fluids you have lost. This will result in feeling thirsty all the time.

When your doctor suspects that you might have developed gestational diabetes, you will need to undergo a glucose tolerance test. If your test results are showing a number that is higher than 140mg/DL, your risks are higher when it comes to developing this condition.

Conclusion

Thirst might simply be a sign that the body requires more fluids. On the other hand, it could be an indication of a complication that is more serious.

Extreme thirst during pregnancy combined with other types of symptoms may be an indication that the expecting mom requires further medical treatment. The fluid intake and nutrition of a pregnant woman are essential for the unborn child and her body. Increasing fluids and calories becomes necessary for any pregnancy.

Always trust your gut. See your doctor immediately, if you are experiencing any symptoms that are unusual while you are pregnant. This is especially true if they persist. Exercise well, eat properly, and have a positive mindset to ensure a smoother and healthier pregnancy, and look forward to the arrival of a happy and healthy baby.

References

  1. Thirst. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/nutritional/thirst
  2. Gestational Diabetes. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/gestational.html
  3. Excessive Thirst. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/thirst/

Helen

Helen is the founder and chief creative officer of ParentsList. Helen is a mom of three, two boys and a girl, her youngest. She’s a stay-at-home mom who just happens to love writing on the side. She loves spending time with her children, especially on warm, cozy Sunday afternoons when everyone’s just relaxed and enjoying each other’s company.

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