I find myself drinking electrolyte drinks for pregnancy almost every day. They help with hydration and provide a flavorful alternative to just water!
Disclaimer: While I am a Registered Dietitian, I am not a medical provider and am not giving medical advice. Always consult with your individual provider about adding in any supplements.
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Being pregnant during the summer months is alot of work! Your fluid needs are already exponentially higher as a pregnant woman, plus I’m very active and it’s hot in the summer. That’s like the trifecta.
I’m still running, lifting weight and doing my pelvic floor exercises, plus chasing two wild girls around.
Luckily, I’m pretty cognizant about my hydration and have figured out the best hydration drink for pregnancy for me.
I love to mix and infuse juices, seltzers and fruits to make a delicious (non-alcoholic) cocktail of sorts that makes me want to drink more.
Drinking electrolytes while pregnant just comes naturally to me – but I also recognize I include them in my diet too! I’ll add extra salt to many of these postpartum freezer meals to make sure I’m retaining enough fluids while breastfeeding.
By the way, only drinking electrolyte drinks won’t make you healthy during pregnancy. Your diet matters too.
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What are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes refer to minerals found in our blood, urine and body fluids that play a role in optimal body functioning. Here are some of their functions:
- Allow the exchange of nutrients and waste between cells and the external fluid environment
- Improve athletic performance
- Help restore equilibrium in the body
- Helps body maintain fluid balance in and out of cells
- Can help decrease muscle cramping (big during pregnancy!)
- Regulate nerve and muscle function
- Regulate blood pressure
In short, electrolytes help your body better absorb water and fluids to keep your cells hydrated.
If you’re constantly drinking water but then peeing clear, you may not be retaining all of those fluids. Hence, electrolytes, namely sodium, can help with that absorption.
While we mostly focus on sodium for fluid balance, each of these is important during pregnancy and growth periods.
For example, you’ve probably heard about magnesium being a great supplement to take for muscle cramping, which can be prominent during pregnancy and even postpartum.
The main electrolytes are:
- Sodium – Sodium is a primary regulator of our fluid balance. When sodium builds up and our kidneys can’t get rid of the excess, this can lead to high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for a myriad of other health conditions. Some pregnant women have blood pressure issues during pregnancy, and hence, may need to beware of, or limit, sodium levels. This is typically what I think of adding to my electrolyte drinks for pregnancy.
- Potassium – The recommended amount (RDA) is 4700 mg/day. Having too little or too high levels of potassium can lead to muscle weakness, cramps, and abnormal heart rhythms. Good sources of potassium are fruits and veggies, like bananas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, lima beans, winter squash, avocado, and leafy green vegetables.
- Magnesium – Magnesium helps the body use energy and is necessary for proper nerve, muscle and enzyme function – it’s involved in hundreds of reactions in our bodies and even helps regulate other minerals (i.e. calcium, potassium, zinc, copper). The RDA for adults is 310-420 mg/day. Magnesium helps the muscles relax (after calcium helps them contract) and is such promoted for relaxation of the body. Get your magnesium through leafy greens, whole grains, seeds, nuts and fortified cereals. I take extra before bed during pregnancy and find that it really helps.
- Calcium – important for bone health, muscle contraction, growth and nerve function. Eating dairy and enjoying greek yogurt smoothies are great ways to meet your calcium needs, but beware the body can only absorb 500 mg at a time.
Given that we are not perfect humans and appetites and hormones can be wonky during pregnancy, we may not get all of these electrolytes naturally through our diets.
Electrolytes and pregnancy are related, we do need to make sure we’re getting what our growing bodies need.
Hence, pregnancy electrolyte drinks may be a helpful addition.
Homemade Electrolyte Drinks for Pregnancy
There are several options for homemade electrolyte drinks for pregnancy that you can make and enjoy, without loads of added sugar.
While there isn’t one best electrolyte drink for pregnancy, you have many options depending on your preferences, tolerance and medical conditions.
Please note: If sodium is something you’re trying to watch or limit, just reduce the amount added or omit completely. Again, sodium is necessary for fluid retention, but some people have higher needs than others.
It’s best to check with your provider, and definitely monitor your blood pressure throughout pregnancy, if you have a history of high blood pressure or cardiovascular issues.
My favorite pregnancy hydration drink is usually one of the following, topped with a little seltzer!
This is an easy one where I just combine tart cherry juice, lemonade and a tiny bit of sea salt. It’s cold, refreshing and tart cherry juice has even been shown to help with sleep and reducing inflammation. Plus, it’s high in antioxidants.
Limeade or lime juice would be a good substitute for the lemonade!
Recipe: 6 oz Tart Cherry Juice + 6 oz Lemonade + 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
Ginger was so helpful dealing with early pregnancy nausea, so I made this one often. Now, I just love the taste of ginger, or ginger beer, and find it a fun way to spruce up the flavor of drinks.
Recipe: 6 oz Apple Juice + 6 oz Water + 1 Tablespoon Ginger Juice + 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
This is a great one if you’re pregnant in fall or dealing with frequent urinary tract infections. Orange juice has about the same amount of potassium as a banana, which is famously rich in the micronutrient.
Even more so, it also contains calcium and magnesium which are important electrolytes.
Cranberry juice is awesome for gut health and has been known to prevent UTIs, balance healthy bacteria, and benefit digestive health in general. All of which are important during pregnancy, when things tend to slow down.
Recipe: 8 oz Orange Juice + 4 oz Cranberry Juice + 1 /2Tablespoon Honey (optional) + 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
Orange Lime Seltzer
This is one of my favorites that I demonstrated in this reel. You basically combine coconut water, orange juice, lime selzer and a splash of lime juice.
The coconut water gives us potassium! Many people think coconut water is high in “electrolytes” but it’s actually missing sodium, but it is a great source of potassium.
The orange juice offers some Vitamin C and potassium, and if fortified, Vitamin D and calcium.
I love the seltzer for extra bubbles, and I’ll usually add some sea salt in there to help with absorption!
Recipe: 4 oz Orange Juice + 4 oz Coconut Water + splash lime juice + 2 oz lime seltzer + 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
What Makes a Pregnancy Safe Electrolyte Drink?
Obviously, there are several ingredients that pregnant women need to beware of, or speak with their individual providers about.
However, generally speaking, here are some of the ingredients I like to recommend and include, and stay away from when pregnant.
Obviously, avoid alcohol. Some OB-GYN’s are okay with kombucha, while others are less comfortable with it, so that would be something to discuss with your providers.
- Waters – Coconut water and maple water are great alternatives to plain water!
- Fresh fruit or vegetables – I love infusing and adding fresh fruit/veggies when possible because it’s hydrating on its own, plus offers extra micronutrients, like Vitamin C, B Vitamins and potassium, as well as fiber and antioxidants. Pineapple, watermelon, cucumber and oranges are my favorites.
- Juices– While juices do contain sugar, I opt for 100% fruit juices. While they don’t provide the fiber that fruit does, they do provide Vitamin C and antioxidants. My favorites are orange juice, tart cherry juice or pomegranate juice.
- Herbs – Fresh herbs, like mint or basil, can be a great addition to a homemade lemonade or seltzer mixture and very refreshing!
- Seltzers – Personally, I love the carbonation of seltzer water so often add it to my electrolyte
- Collagen powder – I’ll even throw some collagen into my electrolyte drink to add some protein for more satiety if I’m having it for a snack. You don’t taste it, but it can also help with the blood sugar reponse.
What About Electrolyte Powders?
Electrolyte powders are another story. I used them often when marathon training, however, in pregnancy, I’m a little pickier about the sugars and other ingredients.
For the most part, ones like UCAN are okay (if you’re okay with stevia), but it’s worth reading the ingredient list.
Things I would be weary about:
- Artificial sweeteners – They are prevalent in several electrolyte powders, whether in the form of aspartame, stevia, monk fruit or more. Some people don’t mind them, and others don’t like the taste. I love NUUN but they do use stevia so I try to limit how much I’ll have.
- Extra sugar – Alot of electrolyte powders are geared towards athletes, and hence, have high amounts of sugar. This is good when discussing electrolytes for runners, but as a pregnant person, you don’t need those high amounts of sugar unless you’re going to go be very active and use the sugar. Especially if you have a history of diabetes or gestational diabetes, use these with caution.
- Other additives – Be careful of caffeine or other additives or ingredients that may not be safe or tested for pregnancy.
- Avoid really high levels of certain or all electrolytes. You want these to supplement your diet, not completely replace it.
Best Electrolyte Drinks for Pregnancy
I’ll usually opt on the safer side and either make my own pregnancy electrolyte drink or rely on natural electrolyte foods during pregnancy.
However, if you do want a pregnancy safe electrolyte powder, here are some I’d recommend:
- UCAN hydration packets
- NUUN tablets
- Liquid IV hydration multiplier – I like their flavors, but note that it also has other vitamins (which may not be necessary). They have real sugar and stevia, and beware about the higher sodium levels if you don’t need them.
Is it Okay to Drink Pedialyte While Pregnant?
Yes, it is safe to drink Pedialyte during pregnancy. It contains safe ingredients. The ingredients in the electrolyte water include Water, Less than 2% of: Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Salt, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Citrate, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, and Zinc Gluconate.
Note that sucralose is an artificial sweetener so if you are sensitive to those, opt for a regular sugar one.
I drank it a few times when I had morning sickness and felt extremely dehydrated and found that it was easy enough for my stomach to handle. I can see why pregnant women may be interested in drinking Pedialyte.
Electrolytes and Breastfeeding
Electrolytes while breastfeeding are also another topic.
Your breastfeeding hunger and thirst may be through the roof, so be aware that you may want to continue these electrolyte drinks through postpartum.
I’ll make many of the same electrolytes drinks for breastfeeding to help me stay hydrated, avoid flavor fatigue and get extra nutrients and Vitamin C too! I’ll also rely more on lactation smoothies, pedialyte or UCAN or other hydration electrolyte powders if necessary.
There’s nothing like breastfeeding thirst, and drinking enough and eating enough in general (though lactogenic foods can help many women) can help maintain your milk supply.