With daily temperatures averaging between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius during the summer months, clinicians at the Women’s Wellness and Research Centre (WWRC) of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) are reminding pregnant women about the importance of drinking water, as serious complications can arise from dehydration.

According to Dr Fatema Mohamad Asheer, Senior Specialist for Obstetrics and Gynaecology at WWRC, it is common for pregnant women to have a slightly higher than normal body temperature due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy. While a slightly elevated body temperature is normal, it can put pregnant women at an increased risk of dehydration, particularly those who live in regions with hot climates.

Water plays a key role in the healthy development of a baby. Very serious complications for both a pregnant women and her unborn child can occur from heat-related conditions, such as premature labour, poor breast milk production, and even birth defects.’

Dr Asheer said that water helps form the placenta and amniotic sac and is a key component of breast milk. Dehydration during the third trimester is especially risky, she added, as it can trigger contractions and pre-term labour.

Experts recommend at least eight to 12 glasses of water each day for pregnant women, and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables with high water content. Pregnant women are also urged to wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, avoid exposure to direct sunlight, limit the time they spend outside during the hottest part of the day, take frequent breaks from the heat (spending time in air-conditioned or cooler places), and avoid caffeine and foods with excessive salt.

If pregnant moms are not certain how much water to drink, Dr Asheer suggested filling three one-litre bottles with water and drink those throughout the day.

Common symptoms of dehydration include dizziness or lightheadedness, headaches, confusion, a decrease in urine and/or sweating, chills, and fatigue. One of the easiest ways for pregnant women to identify if they are dehydrated is to observe the colour of their urine. Dark-coloured urine signals a problem.

The best tip I can offer pregnant women is to simply listen to your body. Let thirst be your guide. If you are thirsty, that is a clear signal that your body is lacking the fluid it needs which is vital for both you and your baby.’

HMC’s Women’s Wellness and Research Centre is the region’s largest tertiary hospital dedicated to women’s health. It offers a range of clinical services from pre-conception to childbirth, post-natal care, and beyond the reproductive phase of life.

For updates and more information about WWRC and the other services on offer at HMC, visit hamad.qa