Breastfeeding and How Much Water to Drink Each Day

Caucasian mother drinking glass of water
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Your breast milk is made up of about 90 percent water. So, when you're breastfeeding, it's important to drink plenty of fluids each day. Drinking enough water or other fluids will keep you healthy and hydrated. It will also help you to make and maintain your breast milk supply.

How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day When You're Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding moms should drink approximately six to eight glasses of water or other non-caffeinated beverages daily.

You should drink enough water so that you're not thirsty. Thirst is your body's way of telling you that you need to drink more, so do your best to pay attention to your body. In hot weather or when your more physically active, you will be more thirsty and should drink more. But, overall, as long as your drinking to quench your thirst, you should be fine. 

How to Get Enough Water or Other Fluids Each Day

It can be hard to keep track of how much water you're drinking when you are a busy new mom. A good way to get enough is to have something to drink each time you breastfeed your baby. Your newborn should be breastfeeding about 8 to 12 times each day. So, have a glass of water just before or after every feeding. Or, keep a container of water or other beverage with you to sip while you're nursing. That way, you'll be sure to get what you need. You can also bring a water bottle with you when you're on the go.

Keep it in your diaper bag, or in the stroller basket. By having water handy, you'll be able to grab it quickly when you're thirsty, and you'll be more likely to get enough fluids throughout the day.

Which Beverages Should a Breastfeeding Mom Drink?

Water is always a good choice. It's sugar-free, caffeine-free, readily available, and you can enjoy it at any temperature.

Plus, you can easily flavor water with lemon or other fruits when you want a change. Of course, you don't have to limit yourself to just water. You can get your daily supply of liquids from many different sources including:

  • Low-fat or non-fat milk
  • Fruit juice
  • Vegetable juice
  • Regular or decaffeinated coffee
  • Nursing teas
  • Black tea
  • Green tea
  • Ice tea
  • Lemonade
  • Caffeine-free soda
  • Soup

Can You Drink Caffeine and Sugary Drinks?

It's best to stick with decaffeinated and sugar-free beverages as much as you can. However, you don't have to deprive yourself of the things you like just because you're breastfeeding. It's OK to have a cup (or two) of coffee or an occasional soda. Just don't overdo it. Try to limit drinks that are high in sugar or caffeine to about one or two per day. 

The Signs You Aren't Drinking Enough Water

When you don't drink enough liquids, you can become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to constipation and a decrease in your breast milk supply. If you're experiencing any of the symptoms listed below, you're probably not drinking enough water or other fluids.

  • Thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Dark colored urine
  • Urinating less often
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

Do You Have to Drink Cow's Milk to Make Breast Milk?

It is not necessary to drink milk to make milk.

If you enjoy drinking cow's milk, it's an excellent source of calcium. Calcium is an essential mineral and part of an overall healthy diet, especially when you're breastfeeding. But, if you don't like the taste of cow's milk, you don't have to force yourself to drink it. You can get enough calcium in your daily diet through some of the foods that you eat. Cheese, yogurt, orange juice, and green leafy vegetables are other good sources of calcium.

Is It Possible to Drink Too Much Water?

While it's important to drink enough water, there's no need to go overboard. Drinking more than six to eight glasses of water or other beverages each day will not help you make more breast milk or provide you with any additional benefits.

In fact, studies show that drinking an excessive amount of water can cause a drop in the supply of breast milk, plus it can fill you up. Filling up on fluids can decrease your hunger and prevent you from eating enough food to get the calories and nutrients that you need.

 

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

Dusdieker LB, Booth BM, Stumbo PJ, Eichenberger JM. Effect of supplemental fluids on human milk production. The Journal of pediatrics. 1985 Feb 1;106(2):207-11.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding, A Guide For The Medical Profession Eighth Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2015.

Ndikom CM, Fawole B, Ilesanmi RE. Extra fluids for breastfeeding mothers for increasing milk production. The Cochrane Library. 2014 January 1.

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