If you are a new or nursing mother, congrats! As you may have already discovered, there is contradictory and complex information floating around regarding water and lactation. We reviewed and consolidated the facts to help you get clear on how much water you should drink while breastfeeding, what to look out for, and why. Since we know you’re busy tending to baby, we kept it short, simple, and straightforward.
How Much Water Should I Drink While Breastfeeding?
The fact is, more than 80% of breastmilk is water.
That’s one of many reasons why hydration is extra important while nursing. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all recommended amount for daily water intake while breastfeeding. That’s because everybody has unique needs.
Before you became pregnant, most physicians would have recommended one of two things: 1) Drink half of your bodyweight in ounces of water each day. 2) Drink 8 cups / 64 ounces of water a day. Almost all would agree that while nursing, these recommendations should be the bare minimum of your daily intake. Remember, water is essential to meet your biological needs and make up for the fluids you’re losing when pumping or feeding postpartum.
How Much Water Is Enough?
We encourage you to proactively drink up, no matter what life stage you’re in. That said, the most widely accepted way to determine the right amount of water for nursing moms is to listen to your body. In other words, regularly drink up. And drink more when you’re thirsty.
Like we said earlier, drink half of your bodyweight in fluid ounces or eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day at the minimum. And when your body is craving more, drink your thirst away. The bottom line is, if you listen, your body will tell you when it needs more drinking water.
5 Signs You’re Not Drinking Enough Water
Thirst. If thirst strikes, don’t wait to drink up. It’s not a sign you want water—it’s a sign you need water.
Assess the color of your urine. Dark yellow / darker urine tends to indicate you need more water. Pale yellow or clear urine tends to indicate you are adequately hydrated. That’s because water can lighten the color of urine.
Infrequent urination. You should be going to the bathroom regularly.
Dry mouth and lips. If your skin isn’t hydrated, you aren’t hydrated.
Standard signs of dehydration like muscle cramps, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue.
Can I Have Too Much Water?
It’s unlikely, but not impossible. When overhydration occurs, excess water is released through urine, which can divert water away from your breasts and cause complications. In other words, drink more water—but don’t feel the need to force it. Again, experts recommend breastfeeding moms listen to their bodies for guidance.
More Water Does Not Mean More Milk Production For Breastfeeding Women
You may have heard that extra fluids mean extra milk. That’s a myth. If you dig into the research, you’ll find there’s no “well established” link between increased fluid intake and increased milk supply. Said differently, modern studies and peer-reviewed research show no benefit of extra fluid intake on breast milk production or milk supply.
The Water You Drink Can Affect Your Breastmilk And Baby
Unfortunately, there are several common contaminants and chemicals often found in tap water (and in some cases, bottled water) that can be transferred from mother to baby by polluting breastmilk.
Here are just a few contaminants we encourage new moms to be aware of:
Lead**.** Excessive lead exposure can have long-term effects on children by damaging the brain and nervous system, slowing growth and development, and causing learning and behavior problems. The biggest concern with lead is that contamination is widespread in public drinking water systems, and studies show even low exposure can lead to damage.
Perchlorate**.** This chemical used in rocket fuels and explosives can impact brain development in infants by interfering with the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones responsible for growth and development.
What About Bottled Water?
Like other breastfeeding mothers, you may be thinking bottled water is a safe alternative to untrustworthy tap water. The truth is, plastic can be dangerous to you and baby. Many of the same contaminants found in tap water have been detected in bottled water. Plus, disposable plastic can contain dangerous phthalates, BPA, and other chemicals and toxins that can leach into your water along with microplastics. The bottom line is, the water may be dangerous and the plastic bottle is dangerous. Don’t forget, the impact disposable plastic has on the environment will also impact our children later in life.
Drink Water From A Source You Can Trust
If you’re worried about your water, consider upgrading to a water filter. Unlike others, our advanced water filters are certified to target lead, PFAS, perchlorate, and hundreds of other common and covert contaminants found in tap water. And if you’re wondering what’s in your tap water, click here to see a detailed assessment of your local drinking water quality.
Limit Sugar, Caffeine, and Alcohol
Just as certain chemicals and contaminants from water can affect the composition of your breastmilk, so can sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Excessive levels of “secondhand sugar” can contribute to diabetes and obesity over time. The caffeine you drink can make baby wired. And alcohol takes time to clear your body. It’s not that you need to eliminate your favorite frappuccinos, caffeinated drinks, energy drinks, or cocktail, but don’t overdo it.
3 Easy Ways To Drink More Water
Drink when baby drinks. In other words, have a glass of water before or after each feeding. Since newborns tend to feed 8-12 times a day, drinking eight glasses or more can fit right into your new routine.
Keep a reusable water bottle handy. Better yet, upgrade to a reusable water bottle with a built-in filter, like these. The bottle will serve as a constant and convenient reminder to drink more water (this bottle even has time-tracking lines), and you won’t have to think twice about chemicals in tap water nor the dangers of disposable plastic.
Eat and drink water-rich foods like soups, cucumbers, fruit juices, and watermelon (as a bonus, these all have hydrating electrolytes like calcium, too). All water counts toward your intake to help you get enough fluids. The high water content in these foods and beverages will give you a healthy hydration boost.
The Bottom Line Is Ample Clean Water Is Crucial For You & Baby
Remember, all of the above is intended to be informational, not instructional. Consult with your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant for more personalized advice regarding breastfeeding. And don’t forget to stay hydrated. Your body always needs water. And that water can affect your breastmilk and therefore, baby. Consider upgrading to an advanced water filter to protect you and your family from dangerous chemicals and contaminants found in tap water. Check out our full line of advanced water filters and home filtration systems here.
1. USC News. From mother to baby: ‘Secondhand sugars’ can pass through breast milk. https://news.usc.edu/117042/from-mother-to-baby-secondhand-sugars-can-pass-through-breast-milk/#:~:text=Add%20breast%20milk%20to%20the,to%20infant%20through%20breast%20milk.
2. World Health Organization. Breastfeeding. https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/breastfeeding
3. National Library of Medicine. Extra fluids for breastfeeding mothers for increasing milk production. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24916640/
4. Centers for Disease Control and Protection. Lead. https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/environmental-exposures/lead.html
5. Centers for Disease Control and Protection. Prevent Children’s Exposure to Lead. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/features/leadpoisoning/index.html#:~:text=during%20the%20following%3A-,Exposure%20to%20lead%20can%20seriously%20harm%20a%20child's%20health%2C%20including,and%20hearing%20and%20speech%20problems.&text=Lead%20paint%20or%20dust%20are,exposure%20can%20occur%20in%20children.
6. Harvard T.H. Chan. Breastfeeding may expose infants to toxic chemicals. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/breastfeeding-may-expose-infants-to-toxic-chemicals/
7. EWG. Kids Still at Risk From Rocket Fuel Chemical in Food and Water. https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/kids-still-risk-rocket-fuel-chemical-food-and-water
8. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Endocrine Disruptors. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm