Breastfeeding: How to Drink Enough Water

My best tip for maintaining an adequate milk supply when you’re breastfeeding (other than to be with and nurse the baby)  is to drink, drink, drink.    You’ve probably heard this before, but getting enough fluid intake is the difference between a content and happy baby and baby who is left fussing for more.  I can tell a huge difference in milk supply after just a day or two of getting inadequate liquid.

Drinking enough is certainly easy to say, but for me it can be difficult to accomplish.  I simply get too busy with the day or too involved in the current project to remember to drink.   Here is the drink-enough-tip that works for me:

I have my own ‘special’ water pitcher that no one else in the house is allowed to use.  (It’s mine, all mine.  ;) )  My current pitcher holds 2.5 quarts.  Each morning the pitcher gets filled with water and put on the counter.  (If you prefer cold water then stick it in the fridge.)    All the water that I drink comes from that pitcher so there is a visible reminder of how I’ve done for the day.  Even my husband and children pitch in by reminding me how much more I have left to drink or refilling my water bottle and bringing it to me.

Here are a couple other tips that have helped:

  • Use a water bottle.  They prevent spills and often hold more than regular cups or glasses.  Be sure to get a water bottle that is easy to drink out of, some require some work and you’ll want to avoid those.
  • Take water with you when you go out or run errands.
  • Drink each time you sit down to nurse.
  • If you have older kids, assign one of them to fill up your water bottle and bring it to you each time you sit down.  If they are too little to do that have them remind you how full your water pitcher is whenever you sit down.

Am I the only one who struggles to drink enough?

Read yesterday’s post, Breastfeeding – 10 Years and Counting for more breastfeeding tips.  Plus discussion and additional insights in the comments.

Visit We Are THAT Family for more Works for Me tips.

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31 Responses to Breastfeeding: How to Drink Enough Water
  1. Rebecca P
    August 4, 2010 | 7:46 am

    You are not the only one who struggles! And I actually LIKE water :-) I am pregnant right now and my midwife told me to drink 3 liters/day. This is not really an impossible task, but I just don’t remember to drink. I like your pitcher idea! I tried a water bottle (poland spring) and then realized that it will collect bacteria…so long plastic bottle!!!

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  2. Catie
    August 4, 2010 | 8:15 am

    I also struggle! I’m nursing a 3wk old right now and I was doing so well drinking enough in the first week or so, but I’ve been slacking! I have a 32oz pitcher/cup that I got from the hospital – which makes it pretty easy! (So, why am I not doing it?!) :)

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  3. Elizabeth
    August 4, 2010 | 8:59 am

    I haven’t met a woman who doesn’t struggle with drinking enough water for nursing. I am also a huge coffee drinker so cutting out the coffee is really hard for me after baby is born and go to water. I wean myself off it close to my due date which helps. After a couple months of nursing though I start to have a cup once in a while and on those days I realize I really don’t drink any water. I have no idea why that is. Anyone else notice if you drink anything other then water it’s hard to get back to the water?

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  4. Nicki
    August 4, 2010 | 9:00 am

    Drinking a big glass of water everytime I sit down to nurse always helps me.

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  5. Stevana
    August 4, 2010 | 9:03 am

    Drinking enough water has always been a challenge for me. When I nursed my daughter I found that when I used a reuseable water bottle I drank more than when I had to refill a regular glass. Even now that she is 4yrs old I find I drink more if I use a water bottle. It is hard remembering to drink when you are so busy with your baby or little ones. :-)

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  6. Celee
    August 4, 2010 | 9:08 am

    I always struggle to drink enough, so I know that’s a factor for me when I nurse. Often I don’t realize how thirsty I am until evening when I put kids in bed. But of course then I don’t want to be up all night going to the restroom! Thanks for the reminder. I’m going to try to drink more.

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  7. Renee
    August 4, 2010 | 9:43 am

    same here, I get to busy to drink, but a big water bottle that I carry around me all the time helps me to drink while rocking baby and nursing all at the same time with no spill :-)

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  8. MamaBearJD
    August 4, 2010 | 9:57 am

    This is such a timely post for me! I am really good in the beginning because I have a hard time establishing a good milk supply, but once things get easier I am not as diligent as I should be. My youngest is not where he should be, weight wise, at his 4 month checkup and I realize that I have not been drinking enough water in the Texas summer while tending to 3 other children. I have a large Klean Kanteen that goes with me everywhere, but when we are at home sometimes I just don’t stop to drink. Thanks for the reminder. I need to teach my older ones to say “Mommy, step AWAY from the coffee!”

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  9. Shannon
    August 4, 2010 | 10:10 am

    This one hits close to home for me and wish I had understood the magnitude when I was nursing. After #6 I found out I was severely dehydrated. I hate to think what deficit that created for her. So, Mommies, Drink, Drink, Drink!!

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  10. Julie @ Best Homeschool Buys
    August 4, 2010 | 11:11 am

    I, too, am an advocate of breastfeeding. I breastfed all five of my babies for about a year each and it is one of my accomplishments that I am so thankful for- for the blessing it brought me and my babies…now all grown up. Your practical breastfeeding advice is so helpful for mothers that need encouragement and/or helpful tips for health and success. I hope that your posts of practical and inspirational info on breastfeeding will make women who haven’t believed that they could do it, seriously consider this commitment to mothering in a deeper way.

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  11. Bitterroot Mama
    August 4, 2010 | 1:16 pm

    I’m always trying to drink water, but didn’t link having a fussy baby to a lack of water. The things I should know after a year of nursing! I’d love to hear your thoughts about weaning, since I’d like to give it a shot here soon.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Oh Bitterroot Mama, I’m not the person to ask about weaning. All of my babies have self weaned. My suspicion is that me being pregnant encourages that along. :)

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  12. Kate @ Bliss and That
    August 4, 2010 | 1:59 pm

    I always struggle to drink enough in both pregnancy and nursing. As I’m typing this, I just added some lemonade powder (just enough to flavor) to my water bottle. I feel so bloated, sick, and yucky when I just chug plain water, so adding something like a splash of juice, powders, or fresh lemon/lime juice really helps it go down!

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  13. RG
    August 4, 2010 | 2:26 pm

    YES! Oh the struggle. Glad someone understands! I think I like the pitcher idea, and I do like the flowers on yours. Thanks for sharing.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I love my flowers. We just got that pitcher since Bella was born, it makes me smile.

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  14. Jenn
    August 4, 2010 | 2:30 pm

    Yes! The struggle is here too! I recently purchased a water bottle that I can open with one hand -so it is super easy to use esp. while nursing, and it also has a “counter ring” around the neck of the bottle that I can use to keep track of how many times I have filled it up throughout the day. I’m perfect at it yet but I am certainly getting better at drinking enough!

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  15. Gwenyth
    August 4, 2010 | 3:02 pm

    Yes, it’s hard to drink enough water, especially in the winter. It’s tempting when I’m exhausted from being up at night to go for juices or tea/lemonade during the day instead of water, but all that extra sugar can wreck havoc on mom and baby in the form of yeast infections/thrush, so water is really best… not to mention that coffee and tea are actually dehydrating. After my second child was born, I became dehydrated but didn’t realize it. I was struggling with dizziness and eventually started to think something was seriously wrong with me. On the 5th visit to my family doctor (!!!), he noticed that my urine specific gravity indicated that I was dehydrated. I started drinking more water, and wa-la… no more dizziness. I look back and think ‘duh….’ but at the time, I THOUGHT I had been drinking enough. I did exactly what you do – got my own dedicated 2 qt. pitcher for the fridge! Now, I am still nursing our third and am newly pregnant with our fourth… so drinking enough water is often on my mind. I found a great water bottle made by Thermos that has a small band around the neck with six ‘tabs.’ You can twist the neck to ‘click’ into the next tab to remind yourself the # of times you have filled the bottle each day. It works for me… if the kids don’t play with the cool click-able neck band. :-) It would make a great product review and give-away, Kim! I bought it for $9.99 at Staples, but it’s probably available elsewhere to! Unlike my old wide-mouth Nalgene bottle, this bottle has a narrow drinking area, which is a lot more graceful and doesn’t result in water sloshing down the front of my shirt if I’m drinking while in the car on a bumpy road! It also has a snap-down lid that ‘locks’ in place, so there are zero leaks or spills when it’s shut.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I should be talking to Thermos. ;)

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  16. Michelle
    August 4, 2010 | 3:33 pm

    Kimberly, I found another benefit to drinking a lot of water. After I have a baby, I always get a terrible bout of the “baby blues.” Not full-blown postpartum depression, but I am ridiculously weepy for several months. I discovered with my second child that keeping hydrated helps a lot with the roller coaster of emotions, especially when those hormones are triggered from nursing.

    Ever since this discovery, I haven’t needed many reminders to drink water… my husband has been know to call out, “WATER! STAT!” and one of the kiddos will go running to the kitchen. ;-) Maybe our postpartum family motto should be “Get Weepy? Get Water!”

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  17. Gabe
    August 4, 2010 | 4:05 pm

    I struggle with drinking enough water too! I love your tip on keeping your own pitcher of water on the counter. I’m going to use that one.

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  18. Monique
    August 4, 2010 | 5:10 pm

    I can’t do the water bottle thing. Drinking sips here actually makes me feel a little nauseous and water-logged. I’ve gotten into the habit of chugging an 8oz (+or-) glass of room temperature water every two hours (about as frequently as my 2yr old goes potty….it’s a great reminder!) It actually helps me feel fuller and not as hungry come mealtime, and I’m not looking at my pitcher at the end of the evening thinking, “Ughhhh…I still have ALL THAT to drink?!” It also helps me go to the bathroom during the day and less in the middle of night. Thanks for the great – and effective – advice Kimberly!

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  19. Stephanie
    August 4, 2010 | 5:14 pm

    I can’t help but drink water when nursing. It always seems like as soon as a baby latches, I am IMMEDIATELY thirsty. (I always joke that there is a straw in there hooked right up to my water supply.) And most times I forget to get some water so there is usually a, “Honey…” And because our children are sooooo cute, he usually doesn’t put up too big a fuss. The last water bottle I bought (at Target) has a dial on the top so I can keep track of how many bottles I have had. Very handy – if you remember to use it.

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  20. Quirky Jessi
    August 4, 2010 | 6:52 pm

    One of my teachers in high school did something similar to this. She had a large water jug that she’d bring to work every morning and try to drink the whole thing throughout the day. I was in her last class and we held her responsible for finishing it off before we’d leave. Highly motivating for me to try to drink more, too.

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  21. [...] Breastfeeding: How to Drink Enough Water [...]

  22. Raising My 4 Sons
    August 4, 2010 | 8:54 pm

    Great tips! It is very important to drink lots while breastfeeding! I have a huge water bottle with a straw that they gave me at the hospital with each of my children. I fill it with ice and water all day long. You would not believe how much better my skin is and how much healthier I feel right now!

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  23. D Martin
    August 4, 2010 | 11:06 pm

    I’m pregnant with my second, and my midwife really pushes the water. I have a sister-in-law and friend who have used her many times before, and I’ve always seen and heard them struggling to drink enough water to satisfy her.

    I knew I was dead meat: I’m quite familiar with the feeling of dehydration headaches.

    However, I’ve learned a way to ‘cheat’ on my prenatal visits. My husband took a helicopter survival course for work and came back with the interesting tidbit that pickle juice (liquid in the pickle jar) is the best thing to take when dehydrated.

    So. . . . I’ve taken to drinking a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of pickle juice before each visit. She’s pronounced me ‘perfect’ every time since, except for the time I forgot.

    It’s gotten me thinking. Is ‘empty water’ like the ‘empty calories’ of white bread? Does our body need a liquid with more in it to really hydrate?

    I have yet to find out how it works with the nursing situation. . . .

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    Beth Fuller Reply:

    According to the information I read in the book Nourishing Traditions, plain water is very bad for you. It’s very difficult for your kidneys and dilutes your digestive enzyems. You should always drink it with lemon or lime. Amazing book, by the way.

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  24. [...] Drink at least 2 quarts of water daily.  If I’m not drinking enough, I notice a drop in milk supply within 2 days!  (More on this in tomorrow’s post) [...]

  25. Free Nursing Cover | Raising Olives
    August 6, 2010 | 9:51 am

    [...] How to Drink enough Water when you’re Breastfeeding Like this? Share it with someone. [...]

  26. Marilyn Brauer
    March 9, 2011 | 9:40 pm

    I’ve struggled with drinking enough water too and I like water. In Basic Training for the Army they would have us drink several canteens full every day, sometimes in one sitting, but I still didn’t get sick of water. When I had my first child and was nursing, it was then that I struggled to get enough water. I would keep a cu that was just mine by the sink and every time I walked by I’d have another cup full, along with keeping the cup from the hospital next to my while I nursing so I could not only remember but also have a large and steady supply!

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  27. Rita
    March 15, 2013 | 12:50 am

    Is drinking a cup of coffee ok when your breastfeeding? I find that w 3 kids I have very little time for bible devotions and getting up super early is so difficult. But in hungry for Gods word. A cup of coffee in the morning w my devotions is something I’ve been doing and my infant is 21/2 mo.

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