If You're Breastfeeding, You Might Need to Drink a Lot More Water Than You Think

I have never been hungrier or thirstier in my life than when I was breastfeeding. Whenever my newborn woke in the middle of the night, I'd feed her, put her back to sleep, then stumble down the hallway to the kitchen. I'd first chug the massive amount of water that I was craving, then nibble on any leftovers that were stuffed in the fridge. While the snacks usually left me satisfied, I just couldn't seem to quench my thirst. So, I started keeping a large refillable water bottle with me at all times. Turns out, it was good that I listened to my body, because nursing mothers require a higher water intake than the average person.

During a regular check-up, my doctor told me once that you should drink half of your weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink at least 75 ounces of water per day. According to Dr. Sears of Ask Dr. Sears, a breastfeeding mother needs even more water to sustain her. "Since the average six-month-old consumes around one quart of breast milk daily and 90 percent of that milk is water, it stands to reason that mothers should drink four extra eight-ounce glasses of fluid daily," he said. So, simply add 32 ounces onto your current intake.

That high amount of water may seem a bit daunting, but there are easy ways to get into the habit. Try carrying a water bottle with you wherever you go, especially while your baby is still an infant. If you're not typically a water drinker, treat yourself and buy a new one. And if you prefer drinks that are more flavorful, try adding some cucumber, watermelon, or strawberries slices to create a better taste. It's also helpful to have water next to you when you're actually nursing. And watch the color of your urine — if it's dark yellow, it's a sign that you need to be drinking more water.

When my newborn was extra fussy and I simply forgot about drinking water, I was way more exhausted and even constipated (don't forget that water helps your body get things going!). It can also make your skin look and feel healthier, too. It's one simple act you can do right to take better care of you, because you deserve to feel good.