Breast milk is 80% water. Does it mean that you need to guzzle gallons of water to make enough breast milk? Maybe not. Read on to learn how much water should breastfeeding mom drink to keep up with the milk supply.
Breastmilk contains all the vital protein, fat, carbohydrate, and nutrient for the growth of your little one and it is the main source of nutrition for your baby for the first year.
Babies roughly take in 25-35 ounces of milk each day. That is so much amount of fluid going out of your body. No wonder, why breastfeeding moms are always thirsty.
To make that much amount of milk for your baby, you need to eat and drink well while you are breastfeeding.
Some moms think that because breast milk is 80% water, they need to drink more water to make more breast milk. While drinking enough water to quench your thirst is essential, guzzling gallons of water a day isn’t going to boost your milk supply.
So, if you are wondering how much water should breastfeeding mom drink in a day to keep up with milk supply, we have an answer for you!
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How much Water should Breastfeeding Mom drink?
Water is an essential element of the body constituting 55%–65% of a person’s body weight (1).
Water needs are usually calculated based on food consumption. For each calorie consumed, you need 1-1.5 ml of water each day. For example, a person eating a 2000-calories diet would need 2000-3000 ml of fluid each day (2).
The breastfeeding moms may have noticed they feel thirsty right after they begin breastfeeding their little ones. The hormone responsible for making you thirsty is oxytocin released during breastfeeding.
Most moms naturally increase their intake of fluid to satisfy their thirst.
At the same time, there are no set guidelines on how much water breastfeeding mom should drink to make enough breast milk.
However, the research studies suggest that breastfeeding moms do not need to drink more fluid other than what’s needed to satisfy their thirst (3-4).
So, when it comes to breastfeeding and drinking enough fluid, you want to drink to thirst.
A common recommendation for the breastfeeding mother is to drink an 8-ounce glass of water while breastfeeding each time and with meals. And the total amount of fluid consumption is what you eat (water-rich vegetables and fruits) and drink (including tea, juice, beverages) throughout a day.
Best way to keep yourself hydrated while nursing is having a water bottle near you. You can drink from it whenever you are thirsty.
Does Water Intake Affect Milk Supply?
The amount of water you drink or not drink to satisfy your thirst affects your milk supply. While you may be tempted to gulp more water or fluid to boost your low milk supply, it may not be the case.
The research study published in 2014 investigated the effect of extra fluid intake by breastfeeding mothers on breastmilk supply, production, and infant growth. The study failed to show any positive correlation between drinking more than your usual amount of fluid and an increase in breast milk supply (3).
On the other hand, when you don’t have enough water in your body, your milk supply will be decreased.
Is over-hydrating bad for Breastfeeding?
We all have heard unsolicited advice from someone in our life about drinking more water to boost the milk supply.
I wish this is true. Unfortunately, that’s not how milk supply works.
You may know that too much of anything is not good for you, and water is not excluded from that fact too! Overhydration can actually decrease the milk supply.
As mentioned earlier research studies have failed to see a positive correlation between drinking an extra amount of fluid than required and an increase in milk supply.
But one research study investigated the effect of over-hydration on the milk supply of 210 postpartum mothers. Half of the study group drank 69 oz of fluid daily vs another half were forced to drink more fluid (100 oz) than their actual quench for thirst.
The study showed that mothers who drank 100 oz of fluid daily produced less breast milk and their babies gained less weight (5).
Normally when you drink too much water, it dilutes electrolytes especially sodium in your blood. And your body will try to restore this balance in your body by dumping excess water in the urine. So, if you drink too much water while breastfeeding, your body will try to get rid of excess water away from your breast causing your milk supply to drop.
So, an important thing to remember is “drink to thirst”. That is, drink fluid every time you are breastfeeding, and whenever you are thirsty.
So, if you are looking to boost your milk supply – feed your baby on demand. For other awesome milk booster tips, read THIS article.
What Happens if you don’t drink enough water during Breastfeeding?
Now that you know over-hydration isn’t going to help boost your milk supply, let’s looks at what happens to your milk supply when you don’t drink enough water.
When you don’t drink enough fluid for a day, your milk supply won’t decrease overnight. So, relax if you didn’t drink enough water today.
But the thing is, your body is going to make milk for your baby regardless you drink enough water or not until you are severely dehydrated. But unfortunately, not drinking enough water may affect your body.
How do you tell if you are Dehydrated while Breastfeeding?
The symptoms of dehydration may look different for different breastfeeding mothers. The most common indicator of dehydration is dark-colored urine. If your urine is dark-colored, you may need to start drinking more water.
Here’re other signs of dehydration in breastfeeding mothers
- Chapped or cracked lips
- Dry mouth
- Less frequent visits to the washroom
So mamas, rather than going through all the side effects of not drinking enough water on your body, drink to thirst.
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How to Keep yourself Hydrated While Breastfeeding?
‘Thirst’ is the best indicator that you need to listen to stay hydrated while breastfeeding. Moms do get carried away while taking care of their babies and forget to drink enough water even when they feel thirsty.
But remember to drink water when thirsty is not hard. Even nature tells you to drink more water when you are breastfeeding.
When you start your nursing session, you may feel more thirsty. This thirst cue is naturally triggered by the oxytocin hormone, released during breastfeeding.
Some breastfeeding moms do complain that they do not like drinking water. You will be glad to know that your fluid needs for the day don’t all need to come from water. Water is always best, but you can go for alternatives Beverages that not only satisfy your thirst but also work as a milk booster.
And whatever you drink (milk, tea, juice) and eat (water-rich fruits and vegetables throughout the day, will counts to your overall fluid intake.
Can I drink Sparkling Water while Breastfeeding?
Yes, you can. But watch out for a high amount of sodium in that. If you are drinking lots of it and not the other fluid, it may lead to a high level of sodium in your breast milk. And sodium is not good for your baby’s digestive tract.
If you want to carbonated water, use the Soda stream. You can make your carbonated water without worrying about extra sodium.
But do avoid fizzy drinks, as it can make you feel bloated and full, keeping you away from drinking enough fluid for the day.
Should you give your Baby Water along with Breast milk to stay Hydrated?
If you think your baby is thirsty especially in hot weather, breastfeed her. It will satisfy baby’s thirst. According to WHO, giving water to young babies (under 6 months) puts them at risk of diarrhea and malnutrition.
If you offer water to your baby, your baby may skip the breastfeeding session and in turn, impact your milk supply.
According to WHO, your breast milk contains 80% water and can easily fulfill your baby’s need for fluid to stay hydrated.
How much Water should Breastfeeding mom Drink? Conclusion
When it comes to breastfeeding, we want to do everything do keep up without milk supply. But you don’t need to go overboard with drinking extra fluid to boost your milk supply.
There is no exact guideline on how many liters of water should breastfeeding mom drink to keep up with their milk supply. Because the individual need for water depends on the physiology of their body, calorie they consumed, their metabolism, and behavior.
Don’t stress about the exact amount of water to drink while breastfeeding, but let your body tell you how much water is needed to make enough breast milk. All you need to do is recognize those thirst cues and drink water accordingly.
And, if you want to boost your milk supply, feed your baby on demand, eat a balanced diet, and drink to thirst. For more tips on maintaining your milk supply, read THIS article.
Are you drinking enough water while breastfeeding? Leave your comment below.
- Winson G. HIV/AIDS nutritional management. 2001. In C. A. Kirton, D. Talotta, & K. Zwolski (Eds.), Handbook of HIV/AIDS nursing. St. Louis: Mosby.
- Dudek S. G. 2001. Nutritional essentials for nursing practice (4th ed). Philadelphia: Lippincott.
- Nkdiom CM, Fawole B, Ilesanmi RE. Extra fluids for breastfeeding mothers for increasing milk production. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(6):CD008758. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008758.pub2
- Whitney E. N, Rolfes S. R. 2002. Understanding nutrition (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
- Illingworth RS, Kilpatrick B. Lactation, and fluid intake. Lancet. 1953; 2:1175.
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