When it comes to food and drink, there are a thousand and five opinions about how much -or what – you need while breastfeeding. Some say that you need this many calories or this kind of food, while others advocate a free for all diet plan that taunts your waistline AND your milk. All in all, it can be a confusing mishmash of do’s and don’ts, one that can leave you with more questions than answers. Even when it comes to something supposedly easy, like water! Just how much water should you drink when breastfeeding anyway?
If you wish to stop here and just want a quick answer, without the explanation regarding how much water you should drink when breastfeeding, it’s pretty simple:
Drink to thirst
How much water should you drink when breastfeeding?
Now, if you want the entire explanation, read on! Water is vital to human health. From lubricating our joints to supporting our brains, easing our kidneys to carrying nutrients and oxygen to our cells. Almost ALL of our organs rely on the presence and ingestion of water. For a nursing mother, it is no different. In fact, adequate hydration is vital to the breastfeeding process – yet, like with most everything else, there are few tried and true rules.
You may have heard that humans need to drink 8 8oz glasses of water per day. Nursing mothers are often advised to drink much more than that. According to The Office of Women’s Health, breastfeeding mothers should drink about 13 cups of water – PER DAY! In fact, most breastfeeding food lists (including my own!) recommend nursing moms drink plenty of water.
When you look at it abstractly, this makes perfect sense. Breastfeeding moms are busy making milk which is estimated to be 87% water – and that water has to come from somewhere. One would think that the more water you drink, the more milk you can make… but that is not quite how it works.
Extra water does not mean extra milk, it simply means that you will stay well hydrated and your body may not have to work quite so hard to produce that milk. In that manner, you may notice that your milk volume actually increases when you increase your water intake. A well oiled and lubricated body just functions better!
Your body needs water, and a nursing mother’s body needs it even more – mainly because you are using SO much energy making that milk! Water just helps everything run better and prevents dehydration which puts a strain on any body.
Is there an exact amount of water should you drink when breastfeeding?
Despite recommendations, the exact cup or ounce requirement varies from mother to mother and even from day to day. This holds true for those not nursing as well. Some days are hotter than others and you sweat more or use more energy. Some days you may drink more caffeinated beverages, which can dehydrate you – meaning you need to drink more water replenish those fluids. How much water you should drink when breastfeeding really depends on what you are doing, how hot it is – and how YOU FEEL.
Instead of watching the ounce mark on your favorite glass, pay attention to how you feel and what your body is telling you. If you are thirsty – drink. If your urine is darker than light yellow, drink more water than you normally do.
Some moms like to drink a cup of water every time they nurse. Personally, I think this is a great habit to get into. If your babe is nursing 8-12 times per day (less as they get older) then you are sure to stay well hydrated!
If you liked this article, please be sure to check out a few of my other breastfeeding posts!
- What NOT to eat when breastfeeding
- 11 Foods that increase your breastmilk naturally
- Useful Gifts for the Breastfeeding Mom