Breast milk is best for babies. The best nutrition babies can get in his first months of life is from his mother’s breast milk. The nutrients and antibodies babies get from their mothers are necessary in their health, growth, and development. But not all mothers do this for their babies, probably because they do not understand how important their milk is for their babies, not to mention the bond that it forms between mother and child. It also contains HMOs that are necessary for infants to have good bacteria that will aid them in proper digestion and at the same time help prevent infectious diseases. Click here to read more about the benefits of breastfeeding to both the mother and the baby. Breastfeeding would mean proper nutrition and hydration so they can stay healthy and produce enough breast milk for their babies.
Why is proper hydration important?
The milk nursing mothers produce is 88% water; when a baby feeds, the mother will lose bodily fluids. Apart from that, nursing mothers would also need to make up for the fluids needed for the body to produce the needed milk for their babies. This goes to say that if a nursing mother is not properly hydrated, she cannot produce enough milk for her baby. On top of that, the composition of the milk she produces will also change. Therefore, it is imperative that she hydrates herself properly.
Does Breastfeeding Cause Dehydration?
It depends on the fluid intake of the mother. If she is regularly taking in fluids, dehydration will not happen. But if she is too busy or pre-occupied to forget her fluid intake, then she will be at a risk of dehydration.
It is highly suggested that an adult woman drinks more than 2 to 2.5 liters of water every day. A lactating mother, on the other hand, is suggested to have a-2 to 2.5-liter daily water intake plus 700ml of fluids to prevent dehydration. The 700ml additional fluid intake is to cope up with the expected 700 to 750 ml breast milk she will produce and feed her baby in a daily basis. Sites like https://www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/fact-sheet-increasing-your-breast-milk-supply/ discuss how nursing mothers can increase their milk supply.
Some Other Causes of Dehydration in Nursing Moms
Vomiting and Diarrhea – food poisoning causes diarrhea coupled with vomiting. This condition will rapidly deplete the fluids in the body. Food poisoning is when one eats bad food or contaminated food. To avoid this, nursing moms must be careful with the food they eat; avoid street foods if possible.
Inadequate fluid intake – some moms may be pre-occupied by their babies and will forget to take care of themselves in the process. This will lead to dehydration if they forget to drink water themselves.
Dieting – it is understandable that women, after giving birth, would want to lose weight and as much as possible immediately get rid of the excess weight they took on during the pregnancy. However, dieting can mean depriving themselves of food and fluids that their body need when they are nursing their babies. Nursing moms need as much nutrients and fluids they can have to help them nourish their nursing babies.
Caffeine – in forms of tea, coffee, or cola can also lead to dehydration. So these drinks must be avoided by moms who are breastfeeding their babies.
Dehydration Signs and Symptoms
You must watch out for the following signs and symptoms: headaches, muscle cramps, fatigue, giddiness, breasts feel light, dry mouth and lips, nausea, and a decrease in milk production.
Dehydration of breastfeeding moms can lead to serious health problems in both the mom and the baby. A nursing mom, who is dehydrated for a couple of days already, is no longer able to produce the same amount of milk as she does when she is well-hydrated. For this reason, the nursing baby will also get affected. Dehydration can cause muscle cramps and this can happen while the mom is holding her baby.
Treatment and Prevention of Dehydration
Eat healthy, exercise regularly and drink plenty of water and other fluids. Here is how to treat and avoid dehydration:
Drink plenty of fluids – fruit juices, coconut water, whole milk, smoothies, and even just plain water.
Eat fruit and vegetables that helps hydrate the body – lettuce, cucumber, watermelon, tomato, radish, spinach, cabbage, pineapples, honeydew, peaches, apricots, and others. Eating hydrating fruits and vegetables can be a considered the top hydration strategy for nursing mothers because it is healthy for the skin and body of both mom and baby. Fruits and vegetables, also, have practically no contraindications to the health conscious individuals so there is no reason why moms and babies cannot benefit from this strategy.
Oral Rehydration Solutions – when stricken with diarrhea, for example, make sure to reinforce hydration by taking in ORS.