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Why hydration during breastfeeding isn't as simple as you think

Why hydration during breastfeeding isn't as simple as you think
Why hydration during breastfeeding isn't as simple as you think

Words by
Feminin Botanik

From our earliest moments, we’re taught that water and hydration are synonymous. It makes sense: at birth, our bodies contain high quantities of water. It only seems natural that the solution to dehydration is to replenish our home’s water supply. 

But, hydration is much more complex than that, especially during breastfeeding. While water intake is important, electrolytes, minerals and water-rich foods all contribute to our experience of hydration.

So, let’s explore the complexities of hydration and how it’s used by our bodies, whether we’re nurturing new life or not. 


Our bodies are made from 80% water when we’re born. This quantity decreases as we age, dipping to below 60% during adulthood. 

Hydration is the essential elixir that supports every cell, organ and system in our body. It produces radiant skin, aids digestion, and supports the efficiency of our detox organs (such as the liver and kidneys).

But, water alone can only provide so much. 

A 2015 study from Scotland’s St. Andrew’s University assessed the hydrating capabilities of a range of drinks (including water). While water can offer a quick boost of hydration, other drinks that contain a blend of sugars, fats and proteins offer longer lasting benefits. 

We know that electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium) are powerful agents for better hydration. They act like a sponge and hold onto water in the body, slowing down the release of urination. These electrically charged minerals are naturally present in our body’s fluids and help to balance hydration in the body and keep our nerves, muscles, brain and heart working seamlessly. 

If we encounter dehydration, our blood’s concentration of electrolytes rises. This signals the
release of the hormone vasopressin which slows the amount of water released into urine. Essentially, electrolytes are our body’s natural mechanisms for retaining hydration. 

Plus, many foods we consider to be “healthy” (from nut butters to trail mix) dehydrate our system. That’s why the key to true hydration is this: eating your water.

Water-rich fruits and vegetables (such as berries, leafy greens, and oranges) are incredibly hydrating due to the way they replenish our body’s water levels. After trapped water becomes released from these food structures, it also sends phytonutrients and antioxidants pulsing through your body and immune system.

The gradual release of hydration from water-rich foods preserves our body’s natural collagen and connective tissue, while keeping our water balance aligned.

Our home is in a continual state of renewal - producing new cells and flushing away old, damaged ones. Ideally, we should be gathering 20% of our daily fluid intake from water-rich foods to keep our system replenished. 


Up to 60% of our body is water, and 90% of breast milk is water, too. 

Lactation is an intensive process and can disrupt our body’s natural water balance. Simply, it drains our body’s most essential tonic. In response, we need to prioritise hydration to support ourselves first during feeding.

During breastfeeding, our bodies can lose around 700ml of water per day. That means replenishing our hydration requires a higher fluid intake than usual (up to 10 cups of fluid daily). 

While there’s no solid evidence to show that drinking more water increases milk supply, we know that not consuming enough hydration can cause milk production to slow.

The benefits of hydration extend beyond breastfeeding. Our bodies’ systems are interconnected and preserving our body’s hydration keeps our home in balance by regulating body temperature, assisting joint mobility, enriching our cells with nutrients, boosting sleep quality, sharpening cognition and even elevating our mood. 

Plus, consuming a water-rich diet prevents the unwanted symptoms of dehydration, which can include fatigue, cramps, headaches, and constipation.  


Supporting yourself first is the best thing you can do to lay the foundation of long-term wellbeing. 

Hydration might be more complex than we realised, but staying hydrated doesn’t have to be. 

Here’s what you can do to stay hydrated and keep your body’s natural balance in check:

  • Add water-rich foods to your daily diet to offer a potent dose of slow-releasing hydration to your body.

  • Drink water every time you feed to keep your body replenished and hydrated.

  • Limit your intake of caffeine and diuretic drinks to retain your body’s hydration.

  • Keep hydration nearby and make your hydration source a pleasurable experience by adding sliced citrus, fruits or fresh herbs. 

Our bodies work so hard for us, particularly during breastfeeding. But prioritising hydration isn't about boosting milk production and supply: it’s essential to nourishing our home and the systems that support us each day. 

Hydration is something we need to consciously consider at all stages, not just when we’re breastfeeding. In fact, staying hydrated is key to supporting radiant skin, replenishing our cells and detoxifying the body. 

And when we add breastfeeding into the mix, we need to elevate our water intake even more to keep these natural processes running smoothly.