How Much Water Does a Breastfeeding Mother Need to Drink?

breastfeeding-basics-logo-2.jpgWhen I was out of town for a funeral (nursling in tow), Sinead tagged me for a meme. I’m finally getting around to sharing a picture of my water glass and talking about how much water a breastfeeding mother needs to drink!

glass-of-water.jpgHere’s my beautiful glass of water. When we renovated our kitchen recently we treated ourselves to a new set of water glasses from Pottery Barn! I like them because they’re sturdy and weighty — they feel good in your hand! They also come in three different sizes, perfect for a small glass of juice, a healthy serving of milk or a refreshing drink of water.

What’s the rule about drinking water when you’re breastfeeding? It’s the same rule for everyone, breastfeeding or not: drink enough to satisfy thirst. Drinking any more than that can actually decrease your milk supply! One study showed that consuming 25 percent more fluids than the “drink to thirst” recommendation led to a decrease in milk supply. I also learned from lactation consultant Linda Wieser at the LLL area conference that drinking more than 80 ounces of water per day can reduce a woman’s potassium levels and have a negative impact on milk supply.

So, while it’s a good idea to keep a glass of water handy next to the place where you typically nurse, there’s no need to force yourself to drink extra water. Just enjoy a glass as you feel the need!

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    • Sinead@BreastFeedingMums

      Hey, Angela, that really is a lovely glass – and a very nice work surface too! I’m hoping to get our kitchen renovated this summer, so I’m noticing kitchens at the moment! :)
      I never knew that about water! Very interesting… I may just have to link to this post in a future post!!

    • kelli

      That’s great information on water – I didn’t realize that you could drink too much to the detriment of your milk supply. I remember being insanely, crazily thirsty for the first few months of breastfeeding. I just made sure to always have water where ever I was and that definitely helped. I even had a ritual of putting together a little pitcher of ice water to take to bed with me for night nursing and that definitely helped.

    • Matia, breast pump expert

      Wow, I never heard too much water could be a bad thing. On the contrary, I know I was told to drink as much water as I could, and when I was coping with my milk supply issues, I am sure I was drinking near 100 oz. a day. Is there a link to some news about this study on the internet somewhere? I would like to have this study as a breastfeeding tip to add to my RSS feed.

    • Angela

      Hi Matia. The study is referenced in the “Breastfeeding Answer Book.” Here’s the cite: Dusdieker, L. et al. Effect of supplemental fluids on human milk production. J Pediatr 1985; 106(2): 207-11.

    • Michelle

      I have a 3 week old and have been having trouble with milk production during the day, but not at night. During the day I force-drink water all day long where as at night i have 1 glass. I started wondering if there was a connection so thank you for your post. Now I will drink what I need.


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    • Abby

      I read something the other day that really startled me about drinking water during pregnancy. It basically said that I should be drinking about 8 32oz. bottles of water EVERY DAY. I thought, that’s nuts, because I’d never be able to drink that much in a day. Aside from that, it’s so unsafe, and people have died from drinking TOO much water at once.
      I definitely think that drinking to thirst is plenty, even for people not nursing or pregnant, and I think there have been recent moves toward telling people not to force down liquids, because you don’t really need to drink more than you feel a need to drink.

    • Chris

      I noticed your article did not mention anything about environmental conditions. Maybe I’m mistaken but I would imagine that 80 ounces of water would be difficult to consume in some climates. However if you live in a tropical climate like we do wouldn’t you naturally require more than a cooler environment. Similarly to what another poster commented our doctor recomended 6 32ounce waters every 24 hours. I think another consideration would be how long it has been since the delivery. Having plenty of water is also very important for softening of stool which was extremely painful for my wife after only drinking to thirst. If you think it is difficult to drink that extra glass of water try being stuck on the toilet, in pain, for an extended amount of time while your breastfed baby cries because it is feeding time. I have heard of excesive amounts of water having complications for individuals but I don’t feel that this article accurately notes the difference between dangerous levels of water, and what is commonly recomended by health proffessionals.

    • Jodie

      I hear you Chris and feel for your wife, my little girl is 4 months old now and I am still having dramas going to the toilet after suffering as you explained for over 2 months. I have had to take lactulose as recommended by my doctor and both me and my baby have had wind due to that I am sure. He told me to keep up the fibre in my diet and didn’t mention anything about fluid intake. Thinking my problem was over about a month ago I stopped taking the lactulose and to my great distress my problem came back! (it’s almost as bad as child birth every time you go if anyone wants to imagine!) :) I have only now made an effort to increase my fluid intake and what a difference it is making! I also have alot more energy. I have always drunk until my thirst is quenched but I do believe a little extra will never hurt while breastfeeding.. I am no doctor just a new mother speaking from painful experience..

    • Kim

      Hi there,
      I am still breastfeeding my 2 year old girl, and I was just amazed on how drinking water can hurt my milk supply. I was actually shocked hearing this. The the lady said that she drank aton of water during the day and during the night she had one glass and her milk supply made a difference during the night then the day. So What is the best thing for me to be drinking if Im not drinking water?

      Thanks for listening.

    • Lisa

      I’m breastfeeding my 3-month-old daughter and I’m amazed at how thirsty it makes me. Every time I nurse her, I feel like I’m completely dehydrated. I’ve been going through bottled water so fast, I can barely keep my fridge stocked. I have to keep refilling old bottles with tap water because I drink it faster than I can buy it. I think I’m drinking an average of eight or nine 16.9 oz of water daily, but it’s hard to keep track. Am I drinking too much?

    • Fid

      Thank you for the article.
      very informative

    • Joyce

      Hi Angela, i just read your article, so is true that drinking water more than 80 oz will reduce the milk supply? I have 5 months old baby and have been having trouble with milk production after 4 months of breastfeeding. Before 4 months old during working, i can pump out 14 oz to 16 oz. Now i pump out the milk only 8 oz.

      During day and night i can drink a lot of water, juice and soup. Only water i think i can drink up to 200 oz per day. Is this cause me the problem of reducing the milk supply? or i also heard some people saying that getting to 6 months the milk supply will automatically reduced. Is that true?

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