The experience of breastfeeding, while different for everyone, is guaranteed to provide plenty of high and low moments: sweet bonding time, frustration, a little boredom, and a lot of questions, especially if this is your first child. Here's an example: Is it normal to always be thirsty when breastfeeding?
In short, yup. "Yes, it is pretty common for nursing parents to feel thirsty when baby first latches on," Danielle Downs Spradlin, a lactation consultant and founder of Oasis Lactation Services, tells Romper.
"Your body is designed to provide a habitat and food for your baby, so sensations that remind us to take care of ourselves are important. Babies take in 25-35 ounces (sometimes more) of milk each day. That is a ton of fluid coming out of the parent’s body." Well, when you put it that way, the fact that you might be craving a beverage makes total sense, right?
"Also, as the body recovers from pregnancy and birth, additional fluids are needed," Downs Spradlin adds. "The body is designed to hold some extra fluid to use for lactation, but that is often used up in the first few days to weeks postpartum. Additionally, getting less sleep, doing more baby care tasks, and postpartum pain medications might increase your fluid needs." When asked about advice for those breastfeeding, Downs Spradlin offered a few suggestions for lactating moms. "Drink to thirst, avoid dehydrating beverages that are high in caffeine, and get a variety of wet and juicy foods in your diet. Increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables (think water-rich foods like cucumbers and strawberries) can improve your overall hydration level." Check and check.
Speaking of which, the risk of dehydration can be a problem for some new mothers, according to Parents. Tera Hamann, BSN, RN, IBCLC at Broadlawns Family Birthing Center agrees, telling Romper that "it's not uncommon for many people to struggle to drink enough and still be chronically dehydrated."
"Remember, with breastfeeding, you are losing an average of 30 ounces of fluid a day to breast milk," Hamann adds. "While it is important to stay well hydrated, you only need to drink to thirst. It is common to hear that excess hydration will increase your breast milk supply, but there is no science to back that."
Think this might be you? Warning signs for dehydration include darker than usual urine, muscle cramps and a general feeling of sluggishness, Motherly reported. As always, pay attention to your body and keep that water bottle handy. If you are dehydrated, you won't be able to produce enough breast milk. And not only that, but the composition of your breast milk will change, according to VeryWell Family, which could affect the health of your baby.
Experts at The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommend drinking 128 ounces of fluid per day. Breast milk is made of up to 90% water, so it makes sense that as soon as that water is going in, it's coming right back out again. I never thought I'd describe a breastfeeding mom as a human water fountain, but well, that's starting to make a bit of sense. Contact your doctor or a lactation specialist for any and all questions and remember to take care of you, too, during this very precious time.
Danielle Downs Spradlin, IBCLC, Oasis Lactation Services
Tera Hamann, BSN, RN, IBCLC, Broadlawns Family Birthing Center