Can Dehydration Cause Preterm Labor?

dehydration preterm labor

Do you ever wonder why your doula, doctor, childbirth educator, and just about everyone else area constantly reminding you to drink your water during pregnancy? Sometimes, especially in the warm summer months, it feels like you can't drink enough of it!

A woman’s blood volume is a mix of many important components, including water and hormones. One hormone in particular is oxytocin, a hormone many of us are familiar with as the "love hormone!" Well, oxytocin is one of the main hormones that cause the uterus to contract.

During pregnancy, the water in your blood helps to keep the amount of oxytocin diluted. While your uterus may contract here or there (hello, Braxton hicks!), the dilution helps to keep those contractions from getting any stronger.

However, if a woman becomes dehydrated in pregnancy, her blood volume may decrease, causing the concentration of oxytocin to increase. With this increase, the uterus may begin to contract more than usual. In some cases, the contractions actually begin to change the cervix, and a woman experiences preterm labor, which is defined as labor happening before 37 weeks gestation.

Luckily, if you are less than 37 weeks along, and you notice that you are having consistent contractions 4-5 times or more in an hour, you can go to the hospital and be rehydrated via IV. Often, IV fluids can stop the contractions and potential preterm birth, as long as there are no other underlying reasons for preterm labor to be occurring (like an infection, or an issue with the placenta).

If you are concerned, drink a big glass of water, and call your OB or midwife! They are there to help keep you and your baby safe, healthy, and growing all the way to a full-term delivery.