Staying hydrated is important for your health but when it comes to women who are breastfeeding their infants, staying hydrated is also critical to breastmilk production. Water makes up 90% of breastmilk and a mother can produce 25-30 ounces of breastmilk every day. And naturally, when your baby drinks your breastmilk, you may begin to feel dehydrated. As a rule of thumb, lactating mothers should drink at least 96 to 104 ounces of water per day. However, you may need to drink more water if you live in a very hot place, exercise a lot or are nursing two or more infants. So, how do you stay hydrated – here are a few tips.

Keep water by your side

Once you start breastfeeding your baby, getting up to get a glass of water can be uncomfortable. So, you’ll be tempted to wait until your baby has finished his feed before you get yourself some water. To keep this from happening, always keep a bottle of water at your breastfeeding station. A large bottle is ideal so that you don’t have to worry about refilling it often. You should also keep a bottle of water in your baby’s diaper bag so that you have water with you even when you’re feeding your baby on the move.

Flavour your water

When it comes to hydrating your body, there’s plenty to choose from – water, juices, milk, smoothies, soups, and fluid rich foods like tomatoes, watermelon, cucumbers, etc. Fresh fruit juices are much better than packaged juices as the latter packs in a lot of sugar and can cause weight gain.

Avoid carbonated drinks, sodas and caffeinated drinks. Caffeine too should be avoided as it could have a dehydrating effect on the body. If you can’t do without your coffee, limit it to 2-3 cups a day and increase your consumption of water to balance it out. To make water more palatable, you can choose to infuse it with herbs, a few lemon slices or a fruit of your choice.

Set reminders

Drinking a litre of water in one go is not the best way to hydrate your body while you are breastfeeding. If you do this, most of the fluid will simply pass through your body and be expelled without enough being absorbed.

Ideally, your fluid consumption should be spread out evenly throughout the day. To achieve this, set timers and alarms and reminders throughout the day. You could also post reminder notes in the kitchen, on your bedside table, etc. As a simple hack, make markings on your bottle to divide its contents into equal portions. There are also a number of apps that can help you track your water consumption throughout the day.

Keep a lookout for signs of dehydration

The signs of dehydration can be quite subtle. If you are aware of these signs, you can catch them early and increase your fluid consumption to counter these signs. Dark urine is one of the classic signs of dehydration. Another common sign is cracked lips and dry skin. Nursing mothers may also show other signs of dehydration such as constipation, muscle cramps, headaches and fatigue. Watch your body for such signs and if you notice any, drink a few more glasses of water.

Though dehydration will not affect your milk production, it can make you so tired that you do not have the energy to nurse your baby. The best way to stay hydrated while breastfeeding your baby is to drink a glass of water every time you nurse your baby. Since your baby will probably need to be nursed every 2-3 hours, you will also find yourself having a drink every few hours. This way, you and your baby stay happy and hydrated.