Because pregnant women tend to have problems with bloating and water retention, it used to be quite common for them to be advised to limit their salt intake during pregnancy. Recently however, many pregnant women are finding that their doctors are advising them to make sure they continue to ingest a reasonable amount of salt on a regular basis. Thanks in part to recent research, finding out how much salt is good in pregnancy can be more easily accomplished.
While outright increasing your salt intake during pregnancy can lead to an increase in blood pressure, it does not necessarily affect the onset of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition in which the pregnant woman's blood pressure is suddenly and dramatically increased during the latter half of a pregnancy. This is an extremely dangerous condition, and is one of the main causes of mother and infant mortality in the developed world. Unfortunately, the only way to deal with preeclampsia is to deliver the child early.
For many years, it was thought that preeclampsia could be averted by drastically reducing salt intake during pregnancy, but more recent research has shown that the opposite is in fact true. Preeclampsia is caused when blood vessels leak salt into other tissues. This problem is exacerbated when too little salt is ingested, because what salt there is goes to the wrong place. So, the new thinking is that women who are at risk for preeclampsia might be able to avert it by making sure they consume at least a normal amount of salt. If you wish to find out exactly how much salt is safe for you, be sure to discuss your concerns with your doctor.
Determining how much salt is good during your pregnancy can partly be accomplished by listening to your body. Many pregnant women experience serious salt cravings, and it's generally all right to indulge those cravings while exercising moderation. If your salt intake during pregnancy is too high, you will probably start retaining water, and experience swelling and bloating. In any case, be sure to drink a lot of water, and if the swelling becomes intolerable, adjust your salt intake accordingly.
As with so many things surrounding pregnancy, moderation seems to be the key. If you should find yourself at risk for preeclampsia due to your age or genetics, it's especially important for you to talk to your doctor about what you can do to decrease your risk factors. She may or may not advise you to adjust your salt intake, but keep in mind that the old thinking about eliminating salt intake during pregnancy is no longer necessarily valid.
How much salt is good during pregnancy will probably vary by each individual, and you may need to do a bit of experimenting to determine what your tolerances are. If you have a craving, it's okay to indulge it, within reason. Just make sure that you remain comfortable and that you feel healthy. If you have doubts at any point, be sure to consult your doctor.