Ensuring your drinking water is safe during pregnancy

You’ll hear it from your doctor and your loved ones, drinking water and paying attention to the quality of the water you drink while pregnant is imperative. Fortunately, 99.96 percent of UK tap water complies with rigorous British standards. If you’re drinking for two, it pays to be aware of where your drinking water comes from ensuring your drinking water is safe during pregnancy. Experts recommend pregnant women drink 1.5 litres of water each day until 27 weeks into the pregnancy, as it is the healthiest way to keep yourself hydrated. This extends to GP approved caffeine-free teas, fruit and vegetable based smoothies and milk. Everything from the vitamins you’re taking to the nutrition in your food is absorbed with the help of water, carried to your baby in an H2O superhighway.

Ensuring your drinking water is safe during pregnancy

Be aware of the risks

With the discovery of the harmful effects of phthalates, which can cause hormonal imbalance and birth defects, it may be time to consider a BPA-free glass bottle. Equally, expectant mothers are more susceptible to the adverse effects of impure water due to their weakened immune system. Illnesses caused by water contamination range greatly, so we’ll explore various types and how they can occur. Contamination covers everything, including:

  • Minerals and chemicals naturally present in water;
  • Seepage from agricultural fertilisers and pesticides;
  • Sewer or waste-water overflows.
Ensuring your drinking water is safe during pregnancy

Keep your head above water during a water crisis

Due to the high standards across the UK, authorities must work to keep utility companies in check. A major supplier was fined £300,000 after polluting the water source of over 700,000 people across the UK. The fine dated back to an oversight, in which animal carcass and faeces had leeched into a tank leading to a cryptosporidium contamination. While the UK has some of the highest levels of tap water purity in the world, it pays to be aware of any crises that have occurred. Moreover, if you want a safeguard against the risks, a bottleless water cooler could be your guaranteed source of contaminant-free, baby-safe H20.

The Flint water crisis began in the state of Michigan, US and has since caused a public health crisis, affecting the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, men, women and children. Studies have found the birth rate has declined by 12% and foetal death rates have increased by 58%. The graph below compares the fertility rates in Flint, MI and other Michigan cities including Lansing, Grand Rapids, Dearborn and Detroit during the end of 2013 and 2015. As the Flint water source was switched in April 2014, the women and growing children would have been exposed to the new water. Surrounding cities showed no drop-in fertility rates.

water safety chart

What are the other threats to my drinking water?

Metals

Various heavy metals can contaminate water, ranging from lead to copper, and even arsenic. Unfortunately, many of these elements are found across groundwater in the UK, although the authorities have a responsibility to ensure levels remain negligible. Arsenic can enter private wells through the pesticides and fertilisers used in agriculture. Copper is used in many plumbing pipes, including those in homes. Over time, the copper level in water could potentially rise. As with lead, when arsenic or copper build up faster than the environment naturally removes it, it can result in unpleasant illnesses such as skin rashes, severe digestive problems, liver disease, and even cancer.

Microbes and Parasites

The most common culprits of water contamination are little microorganisms like giardia, salmonella, and shigella. These are the same critters to blame for most types of food poisoning. Most of the time, these microbes will colonise stagnant waterways when the weather is warmer, or water storage units remain at ambient temperatures – such as with a faulty boiler. Giardia outbreaks are common among pet dogs who drink from puddles or swim in lakes and due to the contagious nature of the parasite, the bug can easily transfer to anyone who meets them. For pregnant women, digestive infections like these can be debilitating. Painful cramping, vomiting and severe nausea can land you in the hospital with an IV to re-hydrate and antibiotics.

dog swimming in water

How do I find out if my water is safe to drink during pregnancy?

If you use a private well, you can visit the Defra website where there is a host of advice on how to ensure your water source is safe.

If you use a private water supply, your local council takes responsibility for guaranteeing the safety levels, although checks can be infrequent, so be sure to check the Defra guidelines as well. The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) carry out independent checks each year and their reports are available for public review.

Use the resources above to find out more about your area’s tap water. Be sure to keep an eye on your water quality and here’s to a happy pregnancy.

Blog written by Sidrah Ahmad

Sidrah is a writer and marketing coordinator at Waterlogic, an international provider of office water dispensers, and has contributed to many blogs on environmental and health issues such as improper waste disposal, the use of single use plastics, water pollution and is passionate about health research, medical discoveries and environmental news.

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