A mother who is struggling with milk supply will go to great lengths to increase production. She will hang on to every word of every well-meaning friend, neighbor or health care provider. Unfortunately, much of what she hears may be untrue or even harmful.
Maybe you have heard that you 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 that drinks milk? Of course not! Mammals produce milk for their infants. Once the infant weans, 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? It is, indeed, important to stay hydrated. You are losing fluids every day due to regular metabolic functioning in addition to milk production. If a mother is truly dehydrated, her milk supply may be affected. In those situations, drinking more water can help a mother recover a dwindling milk supply. But if you are already adequately hydrated, more water will not result in more milk. In addition, excess water can flush important nutrients from your body.
Try drinking a glass of water each time you breastfeed. If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so don’t wait to get thirsty before you have that water. If you don’t enjoy water, try herbal tea, flavored waters or sparkling water. Take good care of yourself so you can take care of your baby!
Written by Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC. Renee is a lactation consultant in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is available for home/hospital visits and phone consultations. Renee can be reached at www.second9months.com