A mother who is struggling to provide enough milk to her baby will go to great lengths to increase her supply. She will hang on to every word of every well-meaning friend, relative or health care provider. Unfortunately, much of what she hears may be untrue or even potentially harmful to her health!
The number one myth I hear over and over again is that one must drink milk to make milk. This is not only false it makes no sense. Think about other mammals. Do you know of any adult mammal who drinks milk? Of course not! Mammals produce milk for their infants. When they mature and wean, they no longer need their mother’s milk. Think about dairy cows. They are prolific milk producers. And not one of them drinks milk!
What about water? A client recently reported that a nurse in the hospital said “…the more water you drink, the more milk you will produce…” When I met with her on day 6 she was practically drowning herself—drinking gallons of water each day—thinking it would help her baby gain weight. Her baby had lost weight because he was not breastfeeding correctly which led to a decrease in milk production. No amount of water could have helped with that situation.
It is, indeed, important to stay hydrated. You are losing fluids every day due to regular metabolic functioning in addition to milk production. If you are truly dehydrated, your milk supply may be affected. In those situations, drinking more water can help you recover a dwindling milk supply. But excess water can flush important nutrients from your body, so don’t overdo it!
As a general rule, try drinking a glass of water each time you sit down to nurse your baby. If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so don’t wait to get thirsty before you have a glass of water. Don’t like drinking water? Try herbal tea, flavored waters, diluted fruit juice, or sparkling water. Taking good care of yourself will allow you to take good care of your baby!
See also “Breastfeeding and Milk Supply“