While you are breastfeeding you should drink extra water, but you don’t need to overdo it. Hydration while breastfeeding should follow the commonsense “in and out” principles of hydration: If you use more fluid, you must take more in. Since the average six-month-old consumes around 1 quart of breast milk daily and 90 percent of that milk is water, it stands to reason that mother should drink four extra 8-ounce glasses of fluid daily. But don’t become a compulsive water drinker. Drinking more water than you need won’t produce more milk. In fact, by a strange biochemical quirk, forcing fluids has been shown to diminish milk production. Here’s how to get the right amount of water to maintain hydration while breastfeeding:
- Drink enough water to quench your thirst plus a bit more, since thirst is not a completely reliable indicator of fluid needs.
- Tote a water bottle with you in your diaper bag.
Get in the habit of drinking an 8-ounce glass of water every time you breastfeed, plus a couple more each day. When baby drinks, mother drinks. If you get into the habit of drinking an 8-ounce glass of water every time your infant feeds (which is usually 8 to 10 times a day), you will meet your hydration while breastfeeding needs.
It’s best for lactating mothers to drink mostly water. If you want more variety, flavor the water with a squeeze of lemon or lime or a bit of your favorite juice. Fruit juices are not nutrient-dense foods. They pack a lot of calories into a minimum of nutrition, and drinking too much juice is a hidden cause of extra weight gain.
Because milk-making hormones help your body conserve water, failing to drink enough water will not affect the fluid content of volume of your milk. But not getting enough fluids can contribute to maternal constipation, fatigue, and impaired concentration. Watch your body for signs that you are drinking enough fluids. If your mouth is wet, you are not constipated, and your urine is colorless to slightly yellow, you are probably drinking enough liquids. If your urine is consistently the color of apple juice, your kidneys are telling you to drink more. If you fee dry, you probably are dry.