Water Intake During Breastfeeding - How Much, How Often, and What
There is lots of conflicting information out there about water intake during breastfeeding. And you may have even had someone mention drinking lots of water if your milk supply is low, but that is not the case. In this article, we will discuss hydration and its relationship with your milk supply. We detail what to drink, how much, what to avoid, and how to know you are dehydrated.
Hydration and Milk Supply
As you begin to breastfeed you may notice that you tend to get more thirsty throughout the day. This is a completely normal reaction. This is your body’s way of ensuring you are properly hydrated. When you breastfeed, your body releases oxytocin, this indicates to your brain that you are thirsty and makes sure that you are drinking enough water. Contrary to popular belief, hydration doesn’t increase your milk supply, and dehydration really doesn’t inhibit it either. Studies have shown that dehydrated mothers are still able to produce enough milk for their babies. That doesn’t mean it is ok to dehydrate yourself, it just means that you shouldn’t worry too much about your milk supply.
While hydration and milk supply are not necessarily linked - your body does need a different amount of water intake during breastfeeding. While you are breastfeeding you need to intake about 100 oz of water a day. The average human needs about 64 oz a day, but your body needs a little bit more in order to help produce milk. If you drink less than this amount, your body will take water from other areas of your body in order to continue milk production. So, while your milk will not be affected, you and your body definitely will.
Signs of Dehydration
If you do not have enough water intake during breastfeeding, you will end up dehydrated, and trust me that is not a fun thing to be. Most of the time your body will let you know if it is beginning to become dehydrated. The two main indicators of dehydration are thirst and dark urine. These beginning stages are warning signs that you need to drink more water, but if you don’t pay attention things can get worse.
Other signs of dehydration include:
- Chapped lips
- dry/itchy skin
- Lack of energy
If things become super severe you may even puke or pass out. In those cases, it is likely that you will need to go to the hospital to get hydrated again.
While you definitely don’t want to become dehydrated, over-hydrating can actually be more detrimental. When you drink too much water, your body will need a place to expel the excess water. When your body has too much water it will attempt to restore the electrolyte balance in your body by diverting water to your urine. This can actually prevent water from going to your breasts and deplete your milk supply.
How to Get Enough Water Intake During Breastfeeding
The best way to check if you are getting enough water is to check your pee. If it is slightly yellow or colorless then you are getting enough water. If it is dark yellow then you need more water. Now, getting enough water throughout the day can be difficult, but you don’t need to chug a gallon of water to ensure you are getting enough. Your water supply can come from other fluids that you drink throughout the day.
Lots of women get bored with water after drinking it for a while, so don’t feel like you need to only drink water. Any sort of sugar-free and caffeine-free drink should be good for you to drink. This includes milk, decaffeinated tea/coffee, fruit/veggie-infused water, fruits, vegetables, and soup. In fact, about 20% of our water intake comes from the foods we eat. So, be sure to stock up on those water-dense fruits and veggies.
Tips For Water Intake During Breastfeeding
It can be difficult to get enough water every day if you are not used to drinking water on a regular basis. So, here are a few tips that can help you maintain your water intake during breastfeeding.
- Drink a glass of water every time you are nursing
- Have a water bottle everywhere you go - in the car, in your purse, in the gym, on the side table. Have it readily available.
- Time your water intake - set an alarm so that you remember you have to drink a certain amount of water by the time the alarm goes off.
- Download a water intake app on your phone. One of my favorite apps is Plant Nanny! Every time you drink a glass of water you give your plant a drink. Soon your plant will grow and you will have a small menagerie of plants on your app. It is like a fun game to remind you to drink water and take care of your virtual plant.
Drinks to Avoid While Breastfeeding
There are a few main drinks you should try to avoid while you are breastfeeding. They are caffeinated beverages, soda, juice, and alcohol. Sugary and caffeinated drinks can prevent your body from being able to hold onto hydration. They can act as a diuretic and make you use the restroom more frequently than you should. Caffeine can also end up in your milk supply and go to your baby - which can lead to a restless baby and no sleep for you. Alcohol in moderation (and with approval from your doctor) is ok to have occasionally, but not all the time. One beer or glass of wine will not be the end of the world but stop after that. If you are craving a soda or a fruity drink, try finding carbonated water and infusing it with fruit. You can also add a sprinkle of sugar if you need to, but don’t add too much sugar.
Main Takeaways of Water Intake During Breastfeeding
Contrary to popular belief water intake and milk supply is not that correlated. Chugging as much water as possible will not increase your milk supply and not drinking any water will not decrease it. Your body needs a little bit more water than normal to ensure you are properly hydrated and your milk supply is good, but don’t go overboard. Drinking too much water can be detrimental, and drinking sugary and caffeinated beverages can cause other problems. The best way to stay hydrated is to drink when you are thirsty and until your pee is light yellow or colorless.
Breastfeeding and nursing can be difficult, but thankfully it can be made easier with Bellefit’s nursing bra. This nursing bra has an easy clip that allows you to unhook your bra and give your baby the nutrition they need quickly. It is soft and comfortable and can easily be worn to sleep. Try out our nursing bra and other postpartum garments today!