Lemon Water During Pregnancy: Safety and Benefits

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Taking a big gulp of lemon water is one of those things most of us have always thought of as a healthy thing. Lemons are tasty and safe during pregnancy, and water is most certainly essential, but what about the combination of the two?

Fighting nausea, reducing swelling, preventing constipation, and keeping hydrated are all reasons to drink lemon water when pregnant. As with other fresh fruits and veggies, using thoroughly washed lemons is key to keeping lemon water safe to drink throughout pregnancy. 

There are some definite benefits to drinking lemon water, but why does this simple drink seem to be the answer to so many pregnancy symptoms? I’ll break down the reasons behind drinking it, as well as give you several ideas to make this drink more exciting. 

Is Lemon Water Good During Pregnancy? The Benefits 

Lemon water is touted as a cure-all, often recommended by health influencers as a morning drink. Those who drink it often do so to start their day off with hydration, but many women wonder whether there are additional health benefits, particularly from the lemon, when pregnant.

It is true that drinking it is good- not to mention a more flavorful way to stay hydrated.

There is some scientific evidence that drinking it can smooth things along during digestion, but any effect could also simply be from drinking more water as good hydration helps prevent pregnancy-related GI woes like constipation (source: Cleveland Clinic).

Foods made with lemon balm have also been shown to reduce stress levels. While lemon balm is an herb, not a fruit, there may be some crossover as the scents are very similar (source: Nutrients).

Beyond maintaining good hydration and some possible digestion improvements, research has shown little other definitive benefits. 

If adding a slice or squeeze of lemon encourages you to drink more water, that’s awesome! If the flavor isn’t for you, no biggie! Beyond hydration, lemon water doesn’t have any magical super-healthy properties but do find other ways to stay hydrated throughout the day.

lemon water in a glass and fresh lemons

Can Lemon Water Help with Pregnancy Nausea? 

Nausea is one of, if not the, most common pregnancy symptoms. Pesky morning sickness can even show up before a positive pregnancy test. 

Most pregnant women will try anything to keep their stomachs from turning, and lemon is an ingredient shared among some of the most popular store-bought and homemade remedies. Anecdotal, many women find that lemon candies, water, and peel lessen their nausea during pregnancy. 

Several studies have shown that even just smelling lemon oil can alleviate morning sickness and pregnancy-related nausea (source: IRCMJ, Cochrane Review).

If aromatherapy isn’t for you, the smell that comes with sipping on a glass of lemon water might help. As an added bonus, if you are getting physically sick, the water will also help you to rehydrate. 

There is some discussion about whether the acidity of lemons is helpful for stopping morning sickness, or if it can actually make the problem worse. 

The average acidity of stomach acid is slightly lower than that of fresh lemon juice (and in this case, lemon water). If too much stomach acid is the problem, it might help by lowering the acidity.

However, if too little stomach acid is causing your nausea, then it isn’t likely to calm your stomach. Additionally, even in utero, some babies get uncomfortable when their mothers eat acidic foods. 

If you are struggling with pregnancy nausea, sipping on it is worth a shot. If you or your little one have previously been sensitive to acidic foods and drinks, try sipping slowly to see how it affects your stomach. 

Is Lemon Water Good for Combating Swelling When Pregnant? 

Growing out of your shoes can happen during pregnancy, but there is certainly nothing comfortable about the swelling that comes with it. There is some thought that routinely drinking lemon water might help- is there any science behind this rumor?

For starters, there are several reasons why your feet and legs swell during pregnancy. The first is that the amount of water and blood in a woman’s body increases during pregnancy to support circulation between mom and baby. The second is the pressure from the growing uterus (source: Nemous KidsHealth). 

Excess sodium can also cause the body to hold onto water to keep its precious balance of this electrolyte and water. For this reason, drinking lemon water can help reduce swelling. Staying hydrated helps to flush and prevent the body from holding onto sodium and water (source: Unity Point Health).

But don’t be fooled, the lemon in lemon water has little to do with this trick. It’s really all about the water and making sure you drink water consistently throughout the day. So while drinking lemon water can help reduce swelling, it is because you will be staying hydrated and not due to the added lemon.  

woman squeezing lemon

Is Lemon Water Safe to Drink During Pregnancy?

The biggest question many women have about their foods and drinks throughout pregnancy is if they are safe!

Like most fruit and veggies, there is nothing concerning when it comes to eating, drinking, and cooking with lemons during pregnancy. Lemon water is no different. Food safety is still the main consideration, but one that is easy to follow with a few simple steps. 

First, regardless of how you add lemon to your water, be sure the outside peel is thoroughly washed. This is especially important if you are slicing and/or peeling the lemon and adding the pieces to your drink.

Even if you are juicing a lemon and adding to your drink sans peel, it is still safest to wash the outside first. This prevents any movement of bacteria from the peel to the inside and into your cup!. 

If you’re new to washing all of your fruits and veggies, check out our produce washing guide

When it comes to dining out, it is best to skip the lemon water. Many restaurants cut large amounts of fruit for garnishes and may not be washing the peels before slicing. If you are in search of lemon water to calm your stomach while out, you can always ask your server to slice a fresh lemon and wash the peel first.

Not only can the acidity of lemons play a role in nausea, but the acid in lemons can impact your dental health too. Acidic foods and drinks, such as lemon water, damage the enamel on the outside of teeth over time.

To prevent tooth damage, try switching out with plain water on occasion, drinking through a straw, or swishing plain water around in your mouth to cleanse (source: Four Lakes Dental).  

Read our lemon article for more safety information on other lemon drinks, foods, and uses. 

Is Hot or Warm Lemon Water OK During Pregnancy? 

Especially in colder climates and during the winter months, cool and refreshing lemon water is less appealing. Hot lemon water, lemon tea, and other warm lemon drinks offer the same benefits without chilling you to the bone. 

Try making your own warm lemon water tea by heating a pot of water with a few slices of lemon- making sure to wash the lemon first. You can also add in cinnamon, ginger, or mint for another burst of flavor. 

If you opt for a store-bought variety, double-check the label to ensure no unsafe herbal ingredients are included.  

lemon water with honey and ginger

Other Ingredients with Lemon Water When You’re Pregnant 

The flavor of lemon water blends well with other herbs, sweeteners, and flavorings. Below are a few pregnancy-safe combos to try if you’re getting bored with your plain lemon water.

● Lemon and honey– Honey adds a touch of sweetness and drinking warm makes for a nice tea. Be sure to choose pasteurized honey while pregnant to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. 

● Lemon and ginger– Ginger is another nausea-fighting food making this a great combo if you’re feeling ill. 

● Lemon and cucumber– Refreshing and light, lemon-cucumber water is what mocktail dreams are made of. Like lemon, be sure to wash your cucumber before slicing.

Is a Lemon Water Detox Safe When Pregnant? 

Lemon water detox drinks are popular on the market. Many of these beverages contain unsafe herbal or laxative ingredients- neither of which are safe during pregnancy. 

Drinking only lemon water as a ‘detox’ is likely to leave you hungry and doesn’t provide enough nutrition to support a growing baby. Detoxing is also unnecessary as your body has its own built-in detox system- your liver and kidneys. 

While drinking it is safe during pregnancy, it is best to leave detoxes behind. For a more in-depth review of detoxing while pregnant, check out our dedicated article

lemon water with mint in a glass

What if I’m Craving Lemon Water While Pregnant? 

Citrus fruits are one of the most craved foods during pregnancy and lemon is no exception. For those craving lemon water, the combined tartness and sweetness of lemon might be just what your body was searching for. 

Currently, there is no concrete evidence to explain exactly why women crave certain flavors or foods during pregnancy, but we do know that cravings are normal, expected, and most are perfectly safe to enjoy. 

If you find yourself craving lemon water, go ahead and sip! Just be sure you’re following food safety and the guidelines we discussed above. And if you are curious about some possible reasons behind citrus fruit cravings, head over to our article “I’m Pregnant: Why am I Craving Citrus Fruits?”

There is no doubt about it, lemon water is not only safe to drink while pregnant, but might help alleviate nausea, swelling, and feelings of constipation. Hopefully, this article has reassured you about the safety of lemon water but also helped you find a few new ways to try this citrusy drink.