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Home > Learn > Postpartum > >How Much Water Should I Drink While Breastfeeding?

How Much Water Should I Drink While Breastfeeding?

Sep 29, 23 6 min

Originally published 08/05/2022. Updated for accuracy and relevancy on 09/29/2023.

Staying hydrated while breastfeeding is important for milk supply. Read on to learn facts and tips for postpartum hydration. 

By OBGYN and fertility specialist Dr. Kenosha Gleaton 

It’s important to maintain a balanced diet when TTC and breastfeeding, and that includes staying hydrated. People often forget that water and electrolytes are also a part of the equation, but drinking enough water is essential for milk production and the growth and development of your baby.

Hydration and Breastfeeding

It’s recommended that breastfeeding moms consume an extra 400-500 calories a day to make up for the nutrients shared with your baby, and water intake is no different. [1] Water helps dissolve and transport nutrients in the body, flushes waste, and supports our organs. [2] Staying hydrated can also prevent constipation, regulate your temperature, cushion your joints, and promote better sleep. [2] 

Does Drinking Water Increase Breast Milk?

Breast milk is about 90% water, so ensuring a high water intake is helpful for maintaining milk supply. [3] It’s extremely important that you stay hydrated for your own health benefits, and also for your baby. From birth to about 11 months, water makes up anywhere from 55-83% of body weight. [4] Unless you’re supplementing with formula, breast milk is the only source of both nutrition and water for a baby. 

Prenatal and postnatal care are equally important. Check out the Natalist blog for more information on supporting your journey from TTC to postpartum, from supplementing with postnatal vitamins (like our Natalist postnatal multivitamin), to dealing with postpartum hair loss.

How Much Water Should a Breastfeeding Mother Drink a Day?

Your fluid needs increase a lot when you’re breastfeeding; this is because adequate hydration is essential for the health and functioning of you and your baby. You should aim to drink around 128 ounces (3.8 liters or 16 cups) of water a day. If you can, a great rule of thumb is to drink a glass of water every time you nurse. Of course this sounds like a lot of water, but you are losing around 25 ounces of water in breastmilk every day, so it’s important to replenish these fluids as regularly as you can. 

Tips to Increase Water Intake

It can be hard to stay in a routine or start a new habit, especially when you’re a new mom trying to adjust to a newborn. There are a few things you can do to try and up your water intake, such as:

  • Infuse your water: If you don’t crave water by itself or find it hard to drink water, try naturally infusing your water. This could be done with cucumbers, ginger, mint, lavender, lemon, strawberries, you name it! Combining some flavors can be a fun way to mix it up and add some excitement to the process.
  • Drink bubbly: If you’re a soda drinker, switching out a sugary beverage for sparkling water can be a healthy, more hydrating option. 
  • Make it a routine: Pick a few daily tasks or times throughout the day when you can finish or at least sip on some water. Right when you wake up, when you’re preparing a meal, folding laundry, whatever works well for you. 
  • Eat it: Many foods have a high water content and can be an easy way to increase water intake. Some options include cucumber, melon, grapefruit, zucchini, strawberries, skim milk (including yogurts), broths (make sure to check the sodium levels), and more. 

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Supplements to Support Hydration

When certain minerals dissolve in fluid, they turn into electrolytes. Electrolytes are essential nutrients that have a major role in hydration, as they help balance cellular fluid, regulate muscle and nerve function, and keep the body functioning at its prime.

Magnesium is one key electrolyte that helps your body maintain proper fluid balance. And while proper fluid balance is important throughout your lifetime, it is especially important while breastfeeding to support your body’s demands and to help support your milk supply. Other examples of electrolytes include potassium, calcium, and sodium. Looking for an electrolyte drink mix? Shop Natalist Magnesium Plus drink mix to support relaxation and bone health, or Natalist Hydration & Energy packets for an energy boost and hydration support. Read more about the benefits of magnesium supplements.

Incorporating these minerals into your daily routine can help your body form electrolytes and aid in overall hydration, or more importantly, prevent dehydration. While eating a balanced diet is a great place to start, supplementing can give you the peace of mind that you’re meeting the recommended guidelines. This can be done in the form of postpartum vitamins and supplements if you really want to kick your mineral intake up a notch.

Best Hydration Drinks for Breastfeeding

Hydration drinks are also known as electrolyte drinks or sports drinks. Some of these can be a great option for breastfeeding moms and others who may need a little support when it comes to staying hydrated. What makes these drinks so helpful isn’t so much the high water content, but the high electrolyte count. 

To reiterate, electrolytes are essential minerals that have been dissolved in fluid and are necessary for preventing dehydration. Minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium help our cells and organs function to keep us healthy. If you’re going to look into these hydration drinks, make sure you avoid products containing the following:

  • High sugar content: Natural sugars from fruit juice are fine, but stay away from any drinks that have a high added sugar content. 
  • Caffeine: If you’re breastfeeding, it’s recommended that you limit caffeine intake to about 200-300 mg a day. If you’ve already had your coffee for the day, it’s probably best to avoid any extra. 
  • Artificial sweeteners and chemicals: While breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid any artificial additives

Do look for coconut water, mineral water, 100% fruit juice, and other natural ingredients.

Try our breastfeeding-safe Nip & Lip balm for moisturized skin!

Hydrating Foods

As stated previously, increasing your water intake doesn’t just include drinking water. Many foods have a high water content and can be an easy way to get additional water in your body. Some examples include [5]:

90–99%: 

Fat-free milk, cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon, lettuce, cabbage, celery, spinach, pickles, squash (cooked)

80–89%:

Fruit juice, yogurt, apples, grapes, oranges, carrots, broccoli (cooked), pears, pineapple

70–79%:

Bananas, avocados, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, potato (baked), corn (cooked), shrimp

60–69%:

Pasta, legumes, salmon, ice cream, chicken breast

50–59%:

Ground beef, hot dogs, feta cheese, tenderloin steak (cooked)


Key Takeaways

  • Water makes up anywhere from 55-83% of a baby’s body weight
  • You should aim to drink around 128 ounces (3.8 liters or 16 cups) of water a day
  • Try to drink a glass of water every time you nurse
  • Many fruits and vegetables have a high water content such as melons, strawberries, lettuce, cucumbers, etc.
  • Electrolytes are dissolved minerals that prevent dehydration
  • Potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium are key electrolytes that help your body maintain proper fluid balance
  • Hydration drinks can be a great addition to your diet, but be sure to keep an eye out for added chemicals, sweeteners, and caffeine

References:

  1. Maternal Diet. CDC. May 17 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/diet-and-micronutrients/maternal-diet.html
  2. Water and Healthier Drinks. CDC. June 6 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/water-and-healthier-drinks.html
  3. Shende P, Khanolkar B. Human breast milk-based nutritherapy: A blueprint for pediatric healthcare. J Food Drug Anal. 2021;29(2):203-213. Published 2021 Jun 15. doi:10.38212/2224-6614.3352
  4. FRIIS-HANSEN BJ, HOLIDAY M, STAPLETON T, WALLACE WM. Total body water in children. Pediatrics. 1951;7(3):321-327.
  5. Popkin BM, D'Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, hydration, and health. Nutr Rev. 2010;68(8):439-458. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x

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