Thirst in Pregnancy: What It Might Mean

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Get up, drink water, use the restroom, and repeat. During pregnancy and especially towards the later months, it can feel as though the cycle of staying hydrated (and knowing where the nearest restroom is located) is never-ending.

While it’s no secret that keeping up on your water and fluid consumption is important, many women wonder whether they’re thirsty too frequently and whether or not they should be concerned. 

Annoying although most likely benign, feeling extra thirsty while pregnant is a symptom many women experience. Excess thirst is rooted in a number of potential causes, ranging simply from changing hormones to the new physical demands placed upon the body while growing a baby.

Gestational diabetes is another possible cause for excessive thirst, albeit less likely the root cause. 

What should you do when experiencing this common symptom? Not all drinks are created equal, especially while pregnant. We’ll break down the science behind pregnancy thirst, as well as which food and drinks to reach for in order to (finally) stop feeling thirsty. 

Why am I so Thirsty During my Pregnancy?

Among the (rather lengthy) list of unexpected changes during human pregnancy, feeling an increase in thirst is relatively common. Aside from the inconvenience of running off to the nearest restroom, many women wonder if feeling thirsty all of the time could mean something more. 

First things first, being pregnant and growing your baby is tough work! Work that requires a little extra water to support baby’s circulation, an increase in your own blood supply, as well as the development of amniotic fluid (source: Journal of Perinatal Education).

Feeling extra thirsty simply may be your body’s way of keeping you up to par on your pregnancy hydration needs. 

thirsty pregnant woman drinking water

The hormone shifts that occur during pregnancy may also be to blame. Researchers have found that pregnant women are more sensitive to changes in their body’s water balance and feel thirsty sooner than non-pregnant women (source: Journal of Clinical Investigation). 

Some prescription medications can also cause dry mouth, which many folks interpret as increased thirst. While this side effect isn’t like to appear just during pregnancy, if you’ve started taking any new medications, it is important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. A medical professional can help you determine if a medication change may be necessary.

Excess thirst can, however, also be a sign of diabetes (including gestational diabetes). The body requires more insulin during pregnancy and gestational diabetes presents when the body isn’t able to meet the increased need, leading to higher levels of blood sugar (source: NIH).

This extra sugar triggers extra thirst, as well as needing to use the restroom very frequently. 

Feeling extra thirsty during pregnancy is usually nothing to worry about (source: NHS). However, if your thirst is disruptive, persistent, or you are experiencing other signs of gestational diabetes, it is best to check in with your medical provider. They may wish to complete some additional tests to ensure you and your baby are both healthy and safe. 

How to Handle Excessive Thirst When Pregnant

Aside from wondering what excessive thirst might mean, the next question many women ask is what can be done to quench their thirst.

Drinking plenty of water seems like the obvious choice, but sometimes water alone just doesn’t seem to help. Switching up your beverage of choice may be enough to do the trick. Trying other fluids, such as herbal tea or seltzer water can often provide relief.

Rehydration drinks such as Nuun, LMNT, or Liquid I.V. are another strategy. These drinks contain some carbohydrates, sodium, and potassium to maximize your gut’s efficiency of water absorption. Bonus: many of these drinks come in sour flavors, which increase saliva production to moisten your dry mouth. 

Sucking on hard candies and chewing gum also spark up saliva production. If you’re certain you are not dehydrated or are trying to avoid return trips to the restroom, promoting salivation will help keep your dry mouth moist and comfortable without feeling the need to down glass after glass of water. 

Again, if your thirst just cannot be quenched or is getting in the way of your day-to-day life, be certain to let your medical provider know. 

thirsty woman drinking water in bed

Is Thirst a Sign of Early Pregnancy?

Being such a widespread symptom of pregnancy, many women query if feeling extra thirsty might be a hint that they’re pregnant- even if a pregnancy test hasn’t yet been taken. 

I found a surplus of anecdotal evidence online- women reporting they felt extreme thirst for days before their positive pregnancy test results. Even so, no hard scientific research has been done to support this claim. Still, if you are actively trying to conceive and finding yourself excessively thirsty day in and day out, taking a test to determine whether or not you’re pregnant won’t hurt. 

While not the most comfortable pregnancy symptom, feeling thirsty often is not necessarily a sign of anything concerning. Hopefully, this article has not only provided you reassurance, but also a few tips and tricks when it comes to dealing with pregnancy thirst.