Breastfeeding Dehydration: Risks, Causes & Prevention
Hydration is crucial during pregnancy however is also just as important after delivering the baby, especially if you choose to breastfeed.
Breast milk is made up of 88% water so if you’re not drinking enough water while breastfeeding, this can disrupt your breast milk production and affect your baby’s feeding. This means that taking care of your own hydration is key when it comes to taking care of your little one and preventing the risks associated with dehydration for both of you.
What are the risks of dehydration while breastfeeding?
Babies who are breastfed do not usually require any additional water as long as their mother is producing sufficient breast milk and they are able to feed properly. However, if you are dehydrated for just a couple of days, you risk experiencing changes in breast milk production. The quality and quantity of your breast milk may be compromised and this could affect your baby’s feeding schedule.
Babies are most at risk when it comes to dehydration since they have smaller bodies with small fluid reserves and higher metabolic rates. A higher metabolic rate means that they have a higher turnover of fluids and solutes, therefore need constant replenishment, which is why it seems they are always feeding! Babies can also become more severely dehydrated if they are suffering from diarrhea or vomiting.
Dehydration in infants can easily become critical and must be treated immediately by a medical professional.
Causes of dehydration while breastfeeding
Put simply, the body becomes dehydrated when it loses more water than it takes in. One of the main causes for this is not drinking enough water; it’s easy to forget to rehydrate when juggling long nights and busy days, caring for your newborn and adjusting to a new routine.
Dehydration can also be accelerated by other factors such as:
- High Temperature or Fever
Dehydration is also affected by electrolytes which are minerals that occur naturally in the body. They play a crucial role in various bodily functions, such as regulating blood pressure and water in cells, but are lost daily through sweat and going to the toilet.
In most cases, the body can naturally replenish electrolytes however if you are losing extra fluids, such as for breastmilk production, excessive sweating or if you are unwell, then you may not be able to replace these electrolytes efficiently. That’s why water alone is not always enough to keep you hydrated and you may need to add an electrolyte solution, like SOS Hydration, to your diet.
Symptoms of dehydration while breastfeeding
It can be difficult to tell when you are dehydrated, especially when your body is going through post-pregnancy changes, but here are some common signs you may be dehydrated when caring for a newborn:
- Decreased milk production (if breastfeeding)
- Muscles cramps
- Dry mouth and lips
You should also be aware of the common signs of dehydration to look out for in your baby. These include:
- Less elasticity in the skin
- Sunken eyes
- Sunken fontanel (soft part of head)
- No tears
- Dry mouth
- Urinating less often
Please note that a healthy baby will still dribble, vomit or have diarrhea once in a while and not become dehydrated.
If your baby is less than 6 months old and you suspect they are dehydrated, please seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Treatment for breastfeeding dehydration
The best way to keep hydrated when breastfeeding is to make sure you are consuming the recommended amount of water, plus extra to make up for the fluid lost in breastmilk.
If you are looking for a more efficient way to rehydrate, try SOS Hydration. SOS is medically formulated by our co-founder, mum of two and leading doctor, Dr. Blanca Lizaola-Mayo, to provide sustained hydration for all ages, containing an effective blend of electrolytes and vitamins to combat dehydration and maintain healthy body function. Our range of electrolyte, vitamin and mineral drinks provide essential vitamins and nutrients to support healthy body function.
Top tip: When breastfeeding, rehydrate yourself before or after every baby feed and with your own meals. This way, you will get into the habit of topping up on liquids and staying hydrated throughout the day.
As always, please check with your physician before incorporating new foods or supplements into your diet while breastfeeding.