How Getting Dehydrated Changes Your Breast Milk

The thing I remember most about my breastfeeding days was the incredible thirst I would have the second my babies latched on. I would guzzle down at least two bottles of water during each feeding, and my thirst would subside when they finished nursing. I think it may have been my body’s way of telling me I needed hydration, because I usually don’t drink much water. But does a breastfeeding mom need extra water? Knowing how getting dehydrated changes your breast milk is important, whether you usually drink enough water or not.

The good news is, according to a study published in the medical journal Clinical Science London, research shows that regardless of how hydrated they are, most mothers will produce approximately the same amounts of breast milk with the same macronutrients, unless they are severely dehydrated due to illness or malnutrition.

Some studies show that there are changes in the amount of breast milk you make when dehydrated, but they are minimal. SFGate noted that a study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health found that when breastfeeding women decreased their fluid intake, their milk supply also decreased, but not very significantly.

The most important thing to do, suggested Kelly Mom, is to drink enough fluids to satisfy your thirst. The article explained that lactating moms should also be mindful of things that can cause them to lose fluids — like exercise and excess heat — and drink fluids accordingly. It's also important to remember that while dehydration may slightly decrease your milk supply, over-hydration won’t give you an oversupply.

So how do you know if you are dehydrated? According to the website for Dr. Sears, dry mouth, dark-colored urine, fatigue, constipation, and impairment of concentration are all indicators that you may be dehydrated. It turns out, thirst in itself isn’t always a reliable indicator of dehydration. The website recommended that breastfeeding moms try to make it a habit of drinking an 8-ounce glass of water every time they sit down to nurse.

It may be hard to keep track of your fluid intake, especially when you are adjusting to a new routine with your baby. Just pay attention to the cues and signals your body is giving you so that you can stay hydrated enough to keep your breastfeeding journey on track.