Importance of hydration for Mothers and Kids – with Dr. Poornima Shankar
Summer is at its peak and one of the most common queries that we receive is how to ensure children don’t get dehydrated.
Recently, Himalaya Baby Care invited Dr. Poornima Shankar, Sr. Research Scientist & Nutritionist for a live session on their Facebook page to talk about this very topic. I could never miss such an opportunity to listen to an expert on the topic of hydration in both mothers and children.
Here is a brief synopsis of what I learnt in the session.
While hydration is important for everyone, there are some life cycle stages which are critical and need hydration.
Body is typically made up of 45-70% of water and in children and infants it is even higher.
Water is required for every body function like transporting of fluids, lubrication of joints etc.
Requirement of water varies based on age, activity levels etc. but an adult typically needs 8-10 glasses of water in a day.
Water is not stored in body unlike other nutrients, so one must take in enough quantity of water every single day to compensate for the water loss that happens through sweat, urination, faces etc.
How much water is needed by who?
How Much Water Is Needed By Baby, Kids & Mother
Water Required in a day
Infants (0-6 months)
Infants (6-12 months)
1.2 – 3 litres
2.2 – 2.8 litres
2.5 – 3 litres
2.5 – 3 litres
What happens when you do not take enough water?
Even slight dehydration like 1% water loss that what body needs can cause symptoms like dizziness, cramping, dry mouth, irritability and increase in body temperature.
Thirst usually begins when you have lost 0.5-0.8% of water.
Dehydration can be a problem in young children because they often do not realise that they are thirsty or that they need water.
10% water loss can damage body systems.
20% water loss can cause death.
What are the consequences of not having enough water in pregnant women?
It is very important for pregnant women to have enough water.
Dehydration in pregnant women can be dangerous and can also cause pre-term labour.
It can also lead to UTI or urinary tract infection.
It can lead to constipation.
Not having enough water can also lead to kidney stones.
How much water is needed by babies/ infants?
Infants who are exclusively breastfed do not need top water because breastmilk is 87% water and provide enough hydration to their bodies. It is also most hygienic and there is no danger of introducing contaminants in it.
But, in certain conditions where baby could be losing a lot of water like very hot conditions or diarrhoea, you can give some quantity of hygienic boiled and cooled water.
How do you figure out that a baby is dehydrated?
Babies cannot speak so they cannot tell you when they are thirsty. But some typical symptoms could be excessive crying, flushed skin, high body temperature and lower urine output. If you see less than usual wet diapers that could be a sign, but best is to take baby to a doctor who can check if baby is suffering from dehydration and advise appropriately.
What kind of food and liquids should be given to a toddler during summer?
She recommends kids to have liquids in the form of water and not energy drinks or sugary drinks.
Also, toddlers should have lots of food which gives her energy and is nutrient dense like fruits and vegetables.
Milk also adds to fluid consumption in kids and also gives nutrients, so milk and dairy products are good for them.
What is the child has dry lips in the morning despite drinking enough water?
It could be due to the air-conditioning which is dehydrating and can cause skin and lips to feel dry. You can apply a moisturiser or lip balm before going to bed. Also, give a glass of water as soon as the child gets up.
Can breastfeeding mothers have too much water leading to thinning of milk?
She does not believe over hydration is a problem because body has enough ways to excrete excess water. In fact having less water could be counter-productive leading to less production of milk.
How can one treat dehydration in kids and adults?
ORS or oral rehydration solution should be given to replace water and electrolytes in body when one has dehydration.
Coconut water is a wonderful source of of electrolytes and contains many minerals which are critical of body. She recommends that everyone should have fresh coconut water whenever available.
In short, it was an enlightening session where I learnt a lot of the things about hydration and am only too happy to share it you all. Water is a life force and we must remember to replenish our body with it and let it go to a stage where it starts asking for water by showing symptoms of dehydration.
Gestational Diabetes is a kind of diabetes which is diagnosed in pregnant women, who were previously not diagnosed with diabetes. This is usually diagnosed in third trimester of pregnancy.GD usually affects between 4 to 10 percent of pregnant women.
It occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone which breaks down body glucose to energy which is used up by body. During pregnancy, hormonal changes can make cells less responsive to insulin, which induces pancreas to produce more insulin. In some women, pancreas are not able to keep up with the requirement. When there is not enough insulin produced by body, blood sugar levels are not regulated as should be, thus increasing blood sugar level leading to GD.
In most cases, GD goes away after delivery, but if you’ve had it, you are at a higher risk of getting it again.
Can it affect the baby ?
Gestational Diabetes is not harmful to fetus, as long as the blood sugar levels are controlled. but if GD goes undetected or if it remains uncontrolled and excess sugar is allowed to pass into baby’s circulatory system though placenta, risks for mother and baby can be enormous.
Excess sugar if allowed to pass through to baby system, will induce baby’s pancreas to produce more insulin. All this can cause your baby to put on extra weight. Uncontrolled GD can lead to very large baby,a condition called macrosomia, which can complicate delivery.
Babies with excessive fat due to excess sugars they receive from mother, can continue to be obese during childhood and adulthood.
Women with uncontrolled GD are also at higher risk of pre-eclampsia (hypertension during pregnancy ). Uncontrolled GD can also lead to complications in baby, such as newborn jaundice, breathing difficulties and low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia).
Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes
Most women with GD show no symptoms.
Some women may experience unusual thirst, frequent urination , exhaustion , presence of sugar in urine.
Who is at high risk of Gestational Diabetes?
You are at a higher risk of GD, if :
There is a strong history of diabetes in your family.
You are obese
Your age is over 35 at the time of pregnancy.
You have a history of GD during previous pregnancy.
You have had previous delivery, where you delivered a very large baby.
How is Gestational Diabetes detected?
At around 28-32 weeks of pregnancy, all pregnant women are subjected a glucose screening test, and if required , then glucose tolerance test.
If you are at a higher risk of GD,your doctor may get you tested as early as in first trimester. If this happens, it is likely that you had undetected diabetes before pregnancy.
If these tests show that you have GD, your doctor will put you on a special diet and possibly some medication, if it is not controlled by diet alone. Doctor may also suggest some specific exercises for controlling GD.
Doctor will advise you get glucose tests done at regular intervals to monitor your glucose levels.
How to control GD ?
You can control blood glucose levels by taking following steps :
· Healthy Diet.
Good diet can keep GD at bay. Take diet rich in fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Take limited amount of sugars and refined foods.
Regular exercise can keep your weight in check and thus reduce risk of GD.
· Healthy weight gain.
Keep an eye on your weight gain. If you were obese before pregnancy, you need to keep your weight in check during pregnancy.
How to reduce risk of developing diabetes later in life ?
You can reduce the risk of developing diabetes later in life by following a healthy lifestyle.
Healthy diet, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can much reduce the risk. Breastfeeding the baby can also cut the risk.
Pregnancy and Ramadan : A guideline to healthy fasting for the mother and foetus
Can I fast when i am pregnant?
Is it safe for a pregnant woman to fast?
It is generally considered to be safe for pregnant women to fast, however each case is different and one must consider health concerns before making a commitment to fast. A consultation with the gynecologist will help an expecting mother gain a clear idea of the risks involved in fasting during a pregnancy. The doctor is likely to carry out a physical health examination and take a look at the patient’s medical history before making any recommendations. At the same time, one must also seek advice from the priest on how one can manage their pregnancy, and the various other options available for a pregnant woman as per Islamic laws.
Dr. Garima Jain shares the following guidelines to help keep mother and baby well-nourished:
Hydration is essential
Experiencing dehydration is a common phenomenon while fasting, therefore one must make sure that they are consuming enough water on a daily basis. Water is responsible for carrying nutrients to the cells in our bodies and lack of enough water will make it difficult for the body to transfer nutrients to the baby.
The suhoor and iftar meals
A pregnant woman must ensure that she is getting the right balance of proteins, carbs and fats. Given below is a list of foods that an expecting mother must include in her diet so to keep herself and the baby healthy:
Fruits and Vegetables
The fresher it is, the better. One must have at least five portions of fruits and/or vegetables per day.
Lean meats such as chicken and fish are good sources of proteins. Vegetarians can opt for beans, lentils, legumes, tofu so that they do not miss out on their quota of protein.
Fats here refers to ‘healthy’ fats that are unsaturated (as opposed to saturated fats that are found in junk food). Mono-saturated fats are the best and are found in avocadoes, olives, most nuts and sunflower oil.
All whole-grain foods, pulses, fruits and vegetables are full of fiber. Intake of fibrous foods does not directly help the developing foetus, but it helps keep the mother’s digestive system moving smoothly, which contributes to overall well-being of the foetus.
Calcium, Iron and Zinc
Calcium, Iron and Zinc contribute to the healthy development of the foetus. Meat, oily fish and dark leafy vegetables are rich sources of iron. Dairy products such as milk and cheese, soybean and tofu are full of calcium while seafood, beans, sunflower seeds and nuts are rich in zinc.
A pregnant woman can successfully go through her Ramadan fast by carefully monitoring her diet and ensuring that she does not over-exert herself at any point of the day. It is best to keep the doctor informed of any changes that occur in the body as well as problems that recur such as indigestion or heartburn. If at any point, the mother-to-be finds it difficult to keep up with the fast, it is suggested that she discontinues it (with consultation from the priest and doctor) so as to ensure that the baby’s development is not affected.