Does Breastfeeding Cause Dehydration?

Does Breastfeeding Cause Dehydration?

A mother’s breast milk is the best nutrition for her baby as it contains vital nutrients and antibodies which are necessary for his healthy growth and development. Breast milk also contains human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) that help an infant make up good gut bacteria to aid in digestion. The HMOs also assist in preventing infectious diseases. Hence, doctors recommend that a baby should be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of her life. But this means that you need to eat nutritious food and stay dehydrated so that you produce sufficient breast milk for your baby. But can feeding your baby make you dehydrated? Many women ask this question! Read on to know more about dehydration during breastfeeding.

Why Is it Important for Nursing Mothers to Stay Hydrated?

Nursing mothers need to stay hydrated and increase their fluid intake because breast milk is composed of over 88% water. When an infant feeds, his mother’s bodily fluids deplete. Therefore, it is told to nursing mothers to drink more than the recommended quantity of water. Not only this, but a nursing mother should also include additional fluids to make up for what her body uses in producing breast milk.

A dehydrated mother cannot produce enough breast milk. Moreover, the composition of the breast milk changes if a woman is dehydrated, affecting the health of the baby. Hence, it is vital for breastfeeding moms to stay hydrated.

Can Breastfeeding Dehydrate You?

Many first-time moms ask, ‘if breastfeeding makes one dehydrated?’ The answer depends on your fluid intake. Breastfeeding your little baby won’t dehydrate you if your fluid intake is regular and you are healthy. But if you are busy with your newborn that you forget to drink water or if you are ill than you are at the risk of getting dehydrated.

How Much Water Should Lactating Mothers Drink Per Day?

Most health authorities suggest that an average adult woman should drink over 2 to 2.5 litres of water every day. A breastfeeding woman produces around 700 to 750ml of breast milk per day. So, it is advised that a nursing mother should drink 2 to 2.5 litres plus an additional 700ml of fluids a day to prevent dehydration.

Other Causes of Dehydration when Breastfeeding

If you are breastfeeding and not drinking enough water, you may get dehydrated. However, there are some other possible reasons that can dehydrate you while you are breastfeeding, which are mentioned below.

1. Diarrhoea and Vomiting

If you are suffering from diarrhoea or are vomiting due to food poisoning or any other illness, your body fluids will get depleted rapidly. To prevent dehydration during breastfeeding, avoid eating unhealthy food and street food that may be contaminated.

A mother holding her baby and drinking water

2. Inadequate Intake of Fluids

As a first-time mom, you may get so preoccupied with your baby that you may forget to pay attention to yourself. If you forget to take care of your bodily needs and do not drink water in adequate amounts, you may get dehydrated.

3. Dieting or Fasting

It is not good to diet or fast when you are a breastfeeding mom, as this can deplete your bodily fluids. To prevent your body from dehydrating, eat nourishing foods and drink plenty of water.

4. Caffeine

Too much caffeine in the form of tea, coffee and cola can lead to dehydration. So, avoid caffeinated drinks, have water or fresh fruits instead.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration while Breastfeeding

Here are the signs and symptoms of dehydration when you are breastfeeding:

  • Fatigue
  • Cramps in muscles
  • Giddiness
  • A decrease in milk production
  • Headaches
  • Breasts feeling lighter
  • Dryness around the lips and inside your mouth
  • Nausea

Can Dehydration Due to Breastfeeding Affect the Health of the Mother and the Baby?

Dehydration due to breastfeeding can lead to serious health problems in a mother and her baby. If the mother is dehydrated for more than two days, her composition of breast milk can change, and the quantity of milk produced may not be enough for the baby, and as a result, the baby’s health will be affected. Dehydration can also cause muscle cramps in your body when you hold your baby while nursing.

How to Treat and Prevent Dehydration during Breastfeeding

Dehydration can be prevented by eating healthy food, exercising regularly, and by drinking plenty of fluids. Here are some ways to treat dehydration when breastfeeding:

1. Drink Plenty of Fluids

Drink plenty of fluids like water, fresh fruit juices, tender coconut water, whole milk, and fruit smoothies.

A mother holding her baby and drinking water

2. Eat Hydrating Fruits and Vegetables

You can also replenish your body fluids by eating hydrating fruits and vegetables like cucumber, lettuce, watermelon, tomato, zucchini, radish, spinach, cabbage, strawberries, pineapples, carrots, honeydew melon, muskmelon, oranges, peaches, raspberries, apricots, and blueberries. Eating hydrating fruits and vegetables will help you avoid toxic chemicals like bisphenol-A that are found in plastics that hold bottled water.

3. Try ORS

If you have vomiting or diarrhoea, visit a doctor. He will probably recommend some oral rehydration solution (ORS) to remedy your dehydration. Along with taking ORS, you should also eat hot, home-cooked meals made from fresh produce to avoid the risk of dehydration from food poisoning. Also, drink purified water from trusted sources to prevent water-borne diseases.

When to Visit a Doctor

If you suffer from long-term health conditions and show symptoms of dehydration such as a headache, dizziness, fatigue or muscle cramps, rush to a doctor. You may need intravenous fluids to restore the fluids that you have lost immediately. Do not take medication, electrolyte solutions, or oral rehydration solutions without speaking to your doctor. If you have not been drinking enough water and yet feel dizzy, overtired, or have muscle cramps and cracked lips, it is a sign that you are dehydrated. Visit your physician immediately.

Dehydration can be dangerous for both the breastfeeding mom and the infant. It can result in insufficient production of breast milk, which may make a baby malnourished and dehydrated. Adopting a healthy lifestyle where you eat nutritious foods, exercise regularly, and drink plenty of fluids will prevent you from dehydration. Try the suggestions in this article to avoid getting dehydrated while nursing your infant.

Also Read: Breast Pain during Breastfeeding and Their Remedies