Why Do I Feel So Thirsty When I’m Nursing?

Why Do I Feel So Thirsty When I'm Nursing?

Hydration Strategies for Moms

Caitlin Beale, MS, RDN

As a nursing mom, you've probably noticed that your thirst seems to be unquenchable, especially when you first sit down to feed your little one. It's as if the act of bringing your baby to the breast immediately sends a signal to your brain to turn on thirst signals. And this is partially true as oxytocin, the same hormone that helps your milk let down, is also involved in your thirst regulation.

But even if you don't notice thirst, it's essential to stay on top of hydration for many reasons. Use our tips below to make hydration a fun and easy part of your daily routine.

Why does nursing make you feel so thirsty?

Aside from the relationship to oxytocin, we know that staying well hydrated is critical for a healthy milk supply. Breastmilk is more than 80% water, so you need extra water to keep yourself hydrated and produce milk for your baby. While everyone's needs are slightly different, most nursing moms need 16 cups of water a day. This may sound like a lot, but some of that water can also come from the foods you eat. It's estimated that we meet about 20 percent of our fluid needs through food.

Besides paying attention to your thirst, a good way to assess your hydration is to check the color of your urine. It may not be the most glamourous measurement, but light yellow urine indicates you are drinking enough, while darker yellow is a signal to drink more.

And while studies haven't quite figured out if drinking more water than recommended can boost your supply, it's clear that being dehydrated can significantly impact how much milk you make. Plus, it can make you feel pretty terrible with headaches and fatigue.

What are some strategies to help you stay hydrated?

1. Start by keeping a water bottle with you at all times. Sometimes a fun new water bottle can make you feel motivated to drink more. If you like cold water, try to find an insulated option. There are even smart water bottles that connect to your phone and help you track your intake or alert you when you need to drink more.

2. During breastfeeding sessions, try drinking an extra glass of water every time you start nursing. Drinking water before or during nursing sessions will help you stay hydrated while breastfeeding and help maintain your supply.

3. Eat foods high in water content like salads, fruits (especially melons), veggies (especially cucumbers and lettuce), and soups. A simple smoothie can also be a way to add hydrating fruits, veggies as well as liquid (plus additional nutrients too).

4. Set up a hydration station wherever you like to nurse. Make it fun with your favorite water bottle. If you have a rocker where you like to sit, keep a full bottle close (ask your partner or friends to help keep it stocked). Is the couch your favorite spot? Keep a little tray with water or even a small pitcher on the coffee table ready to go.

5. Get creative with your drinks. If you are tired of plain water, try adding sliced cucumber or lemon to spice it up. Herbal tea and sparkling water also count, so don't be afraid to mix up your flavor options if it helps you stay hydrated.

Trying to stay hydrated as a nursing mom can seem challenging, but it doesn't have to be. If you're tired of drinking plain old H2O or are looking for some new ideas on how to keep your thirst at bay, give these strategies a try!


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