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During pregnancy, women undergo a whole range of physical and physiological changes. The process of carrying another life inside you for nine months can be quite exacting and can render your body increasingly fatigued and dehydrated on a regular basis.
Staying well hydrated throughout the gestation period is extremely important to make the process easier on the body. Taking in sufficient fluids not only benefits the mother and child from a nutritional standpoint but also helps lessen the pregnancy-related discomforts to a great extent.
While filtered water should be the mainstay of your daily fluid consumption, you can diversify your intake by incorporating other health-promoting drinks as well. One such option that works especially well for expecting mothers is sweet and mild coconut water.
Nutritional Content of Coconut Water
Tender coconut water is a natural, nutrient-rich isotonic drink. It is high in electrolytes, chlorides, potassium, and magnesium and has a moderate amount of sugar and protein. In addition, it’s a good source of dietary fiber, manganese, calcium, riboflavin, folate, and vitamin C. (1)(2)
Nutritional value of coconut water per 100 grams: (3)
Benefits of Coconut Water
Here are some of the benefits of drinking coconut water during pregnancy.
1. Prevents constipation
Constipation is a common problem during pregnancy. (4) It can occur due to decreased motility in the digestive tract and as a result of taking iron supplements.
The fiber and water content of coconut water makes it beneficial in treating constipation during pregnancy. Fiber adds bulk to the stools and keeps the intestinal tract clean and functioning properly.
Also, coconut water works as a natural but mild laxative that can help keep your bowel movements regular.
2. Possible treatment for heartburn
In addition to constipation, heartburn is also very common during pregnancy because of the hormonal changes and pressure on the stomach from the growing womb.
A 2014 review article on the therapeutic uses of coconut water in the Research Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry suggests that coconut water can be used as a treatment for ulcers or high stomach acidity in Ayurvedic medicine. More research is needed to determine if coconut water is an effective treatment for heartburn during pregnancy. (1)
3. Keeps you energetic without spiking your blood sugar
Coconut water may be beneficial for sustaining energy levels during pregnancy. This can be helpful especially if it is hard to keep food down from feeling nauseous.
This light and refreshing drink is a natural isotonic beverage, which means the glucose (sugar) and electrolyte amounts in coconut water are similar to the levels in our blood. (5) In fact, some research indicates that coconut water may help lower blood sugar levels and oxidative stress. (1)
Its moderate amounts of sugar, protein, B vitamins, potassium, and sodium also help maintain the fluid and blood sugar levels in your body, which is important for fighting exhaustion and fatigue. In fact, some societies believe pregnant women who regularly drink coconut water can indirectly improve the health and energy levels of the growing fetus. (1)
4. Prevents dehydration
Due to morning sickness and vomiting, pregnant women are at an increased risk of dehydration.
You can prevent dehydration easily with coconut water, which works as a form of oral rehydration drink. (1) Also, it contains healthy amino acids and other enzymes that may help fight dehydration and exhaustion.
Additionally, coconut water helps alleviate nausea and vomiting, two of the key causes behind dehydration. Aside from zapping your energy, dehydration reduces the elasticity of the skin, which can lead to more prominent stretch marks that occur due to pregnancy.
Enjoy the sweet taste of coconut water. Many find the taste of coconut water more enjoyable than plain water or sports drinks, the latter of which may contain caffeine and other additives.
5. Provides potassium
One of the key nutrients in coconut water is potassium, which helps maintain the body’s electrolytic balance and ensures optimal fetal growth. It can also help prevent leg cramps and edema during pregnancy.
Additionally, potassium plays an essential role in the release of energy from fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Along with sodium, potassium aids in regulating a healthy blood pressure level, nerve signaling, and muscle contraction. (6) Inadequate potassium during pregnancy can cause adverse effects and complications.
As coconut water has a good amount of potassium, drinking a glass of it daily will help you meet the daily recommended intake of 4,700 mg per day for pregnant women. Eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy is one way of getting enough potassium in your diet. (7)
6. Keeps blood pressure under control
Consuming coconut water on a regular basis may help keep your blood pressure under control when consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. The reason coconut water may help blood pressure is mainly due to the potassium, magnesium, and calcium in it. High blood pressure occurs in 12–20 percent of pregnancies in the United States. (8)
Potassium and sodium both play a role in moving fluids and regulating acid-base levels in the body. Getting more potassium in the diet can help lower blood pressure, and a diet low in potassium is associated with a risk of high blood pressure and stroke. (9)
Drinking coconut water may also help prevent magnesium deficiency in the body, which is also linked to high blood pressure. A 2014 review article in BMC Medicine suggests that low calcium and magnesium intakes are related to high blood pressure in pregnancy. (10)
7. Prevents urinary tract infections
Pregnant women are at high risk for urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to the growing size of the uterus, which sits directly above the bladder. About 90 percent of pregnant women develop ureteral dilation, and their bladder strength tends to plummet as the pregnancy advances. (11)
One of the main causes of UTIs is bacterial infection, and coconut water can help in this regard owing to its potent antibacterial and antioxidant properties. It is safe to say that drinking coconut water during pregnancy may help lower the risk of UTIs or other infections. (5)
That said, one must not lose sight of the mild diuretic effect of coconut water, which can increase your trips to the bathroom. So, it’s best that you adjust your intake after taking all the relevant factors into account.
8. Helps in keeping weight in check
The extra weight that comes as part and parcel of the process of bearing a child is often a sore point for figure-conscious mothers. If you let yourself go completely during the pregnancy in terms of calorie intake, the extreme physical metamorphosis can be very difficult to undo later.
Without letting the intrinsic weight gain affect you too much, it is still important to watch what you eat.
Coconut water is just the thing for people who are trying to watch their weight as it is low in calories and devoid of fat. (3)
Pregnant women are also no strangers to sugar cravings, which are often so overwhelming that they can compromise whatever little dietary control they may have. The sweetly appetizing flavor of coconut water can easily satisfy your sugar fix minus the unnecessary calorie load. (12)
So, the next time you feel like having something sweet, consume coconut water without the guilt and give the calorie-laden aerated drinks a miss.
9. Improves immunity
Coconut water is generously endowed with micronutrients that enhance the body’s capability to ward off various diseases and changing-weather ailments. (13)
It also contains a heavy supply of lauric acid, which is used by the body to synthesize a disease-fighting fatty acid that goes by the name of monolaurin. (14)
Coconut water is a quintessential health tonic that contains various antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. When you are expecting a child, you should do everything you can to keep yourself out of the way of infection and disease. Any malady that you contract during this vulnerable phase will have a bearing on the health of the fetus.
Pregnant women can benefit immensely from the antioxidant, antiparasitic, immunostimulant, and hepatoprotective potential of this health-promoting beverage.
10. Provides magnesium and calcium
Calcium and magnesium are two other important nutrients that you can get from coconut water.
These nutrients work together to ensure a healthy pregnancy. While magnesium relaxes the muscles, calcium stimulates the muscles to contract. This means when you get adequate magnesium and calcium during pregnancy, it can help prevent the uterus from contracting prematurely. (17)
Both calcium and magnesium also help with energy production and support bone health and heart health.
The Best Time to Have Coconut Water During Pregnancy
Coconut water is replete with electrolytes and nutrients that are best absorbed on an empty stomach. Thus, the ideal time to consume coconut water during pregnancy is in the morning. Start your day right with a glass of coconut water for an instant burst of energy.
Risks and Precautions With Drinking Coconut Water in Pregnancy
- Your doctor will consider all the relevant factors before stipulating the recommended daily intake for your individual case. However, as a general rule, keep your coconut water consumption down to 1 glass per day in order to prevent an overdose of sodium or potassium.
- If you are about to enter the third trimester, it is always recommended to consume tender coconut water as the body requires essential nutrients in this period.
- People with renal disease, adrenal fatigue, and low urine output should avoid drinking coconut water. (1)
- People who are slated to undergo surgery should swear off coconut water 2 weeks in advance, as it may interfere with blood pressure control pre- and post-surgery.
- People with preexisting diabetes or gestational diabetes must confer with their doctor about adding coconut water to their diet to avoid any undue complications later.
- Coconuts are best consumed once they are cut, as they are ripe with nutrients when they are fresh. It should be borne in mind that a ripe coconut can be harmful as it leads to constipation and has a tendency of increasing fat in the body.
- Pregnant women tend to lose a certain degree of bladder control due to the pressure exerted by the fetus on the pelvic floor muscles. Because coconut water is a known diuretic, it may cause further uneasiness in pregnant women by increasing the urge to empty the bladder.
Pregnant women could add coconut water to their diet to help stay hydrated and this may also provide additional health benefits. However, avoid the canned versions.
Fresh coconut water is better for yourself and your baby as it doesn’t contain preservatives and other chemicals.