Breastfeeding and How Much Water to Drink Each Day

Caucasian mother drinking glass of water
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Breast milk is about 90% water. So when you're breastfeeding, it's important to drink plenty of fluids. 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 You Should Drink a Day When Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding moms should drink approximately 12 8-ounce glasses of water or other non-caffeinated beverages daily. But there is generally no need to start counting ounces. Instead, you should drink enough water so that you're not thirsty, otherwise known as "drinking to thirst." 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 you're more physically active, you will be more thirsty and should drink more.

If you drink enough to quench your thirst, you should be fine. You don't need to count every ounce you take in (unless doing so helps you keep up with healthy water-drinking habits).

How to Get Enough 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 the hydration you need.

Bring a water bottle with you when you're on the go, too. 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.

Some moms also like to fill up several bottles or lidded cups of water in the morning, with the goal to finish them by the end of the day. Not only is it convenient, but it can make tracking how much you've had and holding yourself accountable for staying hydrated easier.

What 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 fruits or herbs 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
  • Iced 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. 

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?

No, you don't need cow's milk if you're breastfeeding. 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 just because you're breastfeeding. 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 12 glasses of water or other beverages each day probably will not help you make more breast milk or provide you with any additional benefits. And filling up on fluids can decrease your hunger and prevent you from eating enough food to get the calories and nutrients that you need, although the risk of drinking enough water to impact your caloric intake is low.

 

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Article Sources

  1. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Nursing Your Baby? What You Eat and Drink Matters.

  2. American Academy of Family Physicians. Dehydration.

  3. Office of Dietary Supplements. Calcium Fact Sheet for Professionals.

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