With my first child, my body made so much milk, I felt like I had two super soakers locked down in my bra. With baby number two, however, my supply was far different. My doctor suggested drinking more water, but, how much water should you drink to boost milk supply?
According to Kelly Mom, it depends. The website cited research that looked at the different levels of fluid needed for lactating mothers, which found that much of it was reliant upon what comprised the mother's diet and that mother's individual metabolism. While lactating mothers need, on average, 13 glasses of water per day to maintain a proper supply and hydrating themselves effectively, it's not necessary for all women to down glass after glass of water.
If a woman has a diet that is loaded with water-dense fruits and vegetables, they'll likely need to drink less water than women who eat a diet less rich in water heavy foods. But how do you know you've had enough? How can you tell if you're drinking enough water for optimal breastfeeding?
According to the website for Dr. Sears, thirst is your best indicator for how much water to drink. The article suggested drinking until you're no longer thirsty, and then drinking a bit more. Basically, it's exactly how I handle my cookie cravings. I eat the chocolate chip studded goodness until I am no longer craving them, and then I add just a bite more for good measure. That's how everyone does it, right?
An important note is that while you can get your fluids from other sources like eating your veggies and drinking seltzer, according to the Mayo Clinic, drinks like caffeinated beverages have a dehydrating effect, and should be balanced when considering your water consumption. It's suggested that you limit your caffeinated beverages to two to three glasses per day. (What am I supposed to dip my cookies in then?)
La Leche League International says the best way to know if you're getting the right amount of water is to be mindful of your body. Drink when you're thirsty, pay attention to your bathroom habits, if you're sweating a lot, drink more, and if you've been working out, drink some more water. Also, check your supply. If it's low, it may be because of hydration, but it can also be any number of issues — or it might not be as low as you think. It's always best in these cases to seek out the guidance of a lactation consultant, who can answer your questions thoroughly and accurately.
Hydration isn't as complicated as it seems, but it is a big concern. According to the website for Dr. Sears, moms who don't get enough water are at risk of not only a decreased milk supply, but impaired concentration and constipation. And sometimes, alone time with the bathroom door locked is the quietest five minutes of your day, so stay on top of your hydration to keep them.