How to stay hydrated while breastfeeding your little one?

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Every mother knows that breastmilk is rich in vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients but did you know that 90% of breastmilk is actually water. While it hydrates your baby, breastfeeding can make you feel dehydrated. In extreme circumstances, this can be harmful to your health and affect your lactation capabilities. Your body will be producing up to 1 litre of breastmilk per day so lactating mothers need to drink more water than others. Aim for about 12-14 cups of water every day. You may also need to drink more on a hot day or if you live a more active lifestyle as compared to other mothers. As a new mother you’re likely to forget about your own needs, so, here are a
few tips to help you stay hydrated.

Drink with your baby
Your baby needs to be breastfed 8 – 12 times every day. If you find yourself forgetting to drink water during the day, have a glass of water every time you feed your baby. This is a great way to get your daily quota of water without having to think about it. Once your baby starts feeding, it may be difficult for you to get up for a while so ensure you have a full bottle of water by your side before you start a feed. Remember, it’s better to drink small amounts of water throughout the day than chug a bottle down in a single instance.

Set targets
Like anything else, the easiest way to track your hydration levels is to set targets for yourself. When you start your morning, fill up a few bottles with the amount of water you need to drink through the day. Aim to finish this by the end of the day. To help you meet this target, you could set alarms to remind you to drink water. You could also try using a hydration app.

Keep a bottle always within reach
Nothing can be more frustrating than feeling thirsty and then not having water accessible. Always carry a bottle of water wherever you go. Keep one tucked in your bag, another in your car and another by your desk. Having water readily available also reduces the chance that you choose a soda or a cup of coffee to quench your thirst.

Be aware of signs of dehydration
Listen to your body. Thirst is typically the first sign of dehydration. Some of the other signs to look out for include chapped lips, dry skin, tiredness, dizziness, headaches, dark urine, nausea and muscle cramps. If these symptoms become pronounced, your breastmilk supply may be affected. Hence, look out for them and make sure you drink something whenever you feel them come on.

Choose the right liquids
When you talk of staying hydrated, water is the focal point of your efforts. That said, water need not be the only fluid you drink. You can also drink plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable juices, coconut water, cow’s milk, nut milk, soup and decaffeinated tea or coffee. You can also infuse herbs in a bottle of water to flavour it. Vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes are also known for their high water content.
You must be aware that not all liquids count towards keeping you hydrated. As far as possible, avoid alcohol, caffeinated or processed drinks and sugary sodas. These types of drinks can cause further dehydration. Caffeinated drinks may further act as diuretics indirectly affecting your baby’s mood and alcohol may inhibit your breast’s letdown effect to make breastfeeding problematic.

A final word
Breastfeeding is a beautiful opportunity for mother and infant to bond together. Keeping yourself hydrated helps you maintain a healthy breastmilk supply and keeps you fresh and healthy too. If you’re not used to drinking so much water throughout the day, make a deliberate effort to gradually increase your water consumption. And finally, if you’re still feeling dehydrated or finding it difficult to breastfeed, consult a doctor at the earliest.


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