Tips for Staying Hydrated while Pregnant and Breastfeeding

AllisonMS, RDN, CDN

Read time: 5 minutes

What to know about your fluid needs while pregnant and breastfeeding

  • Understanding the importance of hydration

  • How much fluid is needed daily

  • Tips for staying hydrated

Water is one of the most important nutrients for our health and wellbeing. While women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding need approximately 7 to 8 (8oz) cups of fluids daily, recommendations are higher during pregnancy and lactation.1

Read on to learn how much fluid you need during the prenatal and postpartum stages, as well as which fluids are the best choices for staying hydrated.

Hydration during pregnancy

Water and adequate hydration play a critical role during pregnancy. Not only does it assist in delivering nutrients to your baby, but it helps support the development of amniotic fluid as well as the increases in your blood volume.2

Additionally, more fluids are lost through both sweat and urination during pregnancy due to natural hormonal and physiological changes.2 This makes drinking enough fluids even more important.

And on top of these needs, it turns out that pregnant women who aren’t drinking enough fluids may be at a higher risk of developing constipation.3,4

Fluid recommendation during pregnancy: 8 to 12 (8 oz) cups of fluids per day.5

Learn about: 6 Tips to Help Manage Prenatal and Postpartum Constipation

Hydration during breastfeeding

While drinking water beyond your needs may not impact breastmilk supply, being well hydrated is still important for your health.6,7

On average, a breastfeeding woman produces about 25 ounces (750ml) of breastmilk per day.7,8 Most professionals recommend drinking to thirst to help support your hydration needs while breastfeeding.7,9

It can be easy to ignore those signals to drink water, especially when you’re busy with your baby. Be sure to keep a water bottle nearby to help get the fluids your body needs.

Fluid recommendation during breastfeeding: Aim for a minimum of 8 (8oz) cups per day to meet your normal biological needs, plus drinking more to thirst to help meet your breastfeeding needs.

Read about: Breastfeeding: How to Support a Good Milk Supply

When do you need to drink more?

Our fluid needs change daily depending on the temperature, climate, activity level, and even whether we are experiencing diarrhea or fever.13 Be sure to listen to your body and drink more if needed.

Watch the weather: When it is very hot, very cold, or very dry outside, we tend to lose fluids at a faster pace.11

Are you being more active? Aim to drink a little more before and after each time you exercise. If you are going out for a long period of physical activity, bring water or another hydrating beverage with you.12

Remember that the hotter or drier it is, the more fluids you may need.

Your total water intake comes from both food and liquid

Recommendations for how much we need to drink, such as the suggestions above, are only part of the total fluids we need per day, the rest comes from the foods we eat.13 This combined amount is referred to as Total Water Intake (TWI).

While all beverages add to our fluid needs, when it comes to the best fluid for hydration, plain water should be the focus.10

What in our diet contributes to our total water intake? Fruits and vegetables have a high water content, so they play an important role in our hydration.15 Other foods, such as soup, also contribute to our total water intake.

Learn more: Meal Plan for Increasing Fruits and Vegetables

How to know you are getting enough fluids

Is it possible to know if you are adequately hydrated? Yes!

One of the best ways to assess hydration status is to take a look at your urine, which should be very pale yellow in color.14 If you notice your urine is darker in color, it may mean you need to up your water intake.

If you are concerned, speak with your health care provider about your fluid needs.

Wondering if you’re getting enough fluids? Reach out to our team of registered dietitian nutritionists and lactation consultants for free! They’re here to help on our free to live chat from Monday – Friday 8am - 6pm (ET). Chat Now!

Tips to help keep you hydrated

Carry water or other beverages with you

Do you prefer cold water? Carry an insulated thermos or water bottle and add plenty of ice. Do you prefer warm drinks? Then consider a warm thermos of decaffeinated tea or coffee.

If you drink caffeinated beverages, note that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends limiting your caffeine intake to no more than 200mg per day while pregnant.16

Read more: Can I have Caffeine while Pregnant and Breastfeeding?

Jazz up your water with flavor or fizz

If you find it difficult to drink plain water all the time, try brightening it up with the addition of natural flavors from fruits, vegetables, and even herbs. Simply add your choice of fresh ingredients to a pitcher of water and place it back in the fridge for a few hours for a drink that’s tasty and refreshing.

You can also make flavored ice cubes to add to your water: freeze chopped fruit and herbs with water in ice cube trays.

If you prefer bubbles, it’s okay to drink seltzer or carbonated water. Add a small splash of juice or some cut up citrus fruit for flavor.

Try these fun flavor combinations: cucumber/mint, honeydew/lime, pear/ginger, or watermelon/rosemary.

Up your produce intake

Fresh fruits and vegetables are mostly water so the more you eat these foods, the better hydrated you may be. They also provide you with an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Goal: Eat vegetables or fruit with every meal and snack!

Sip while you wait

Waiting for your tea or coffee to brew? Drink water. Waiting for your lunch to heat up? Drink water.

Make water part of your routine

Find ways to make staying hydrated part of what you already do every day.

For example, create a habit to drink a glass of water after you brush your teeth or while you are commuting to work.

When drinking water is part of your routine, you are more likely to remember.

Choose water most of the time

Limit sweetened beverages like sodas, sports drink, and juices that offer little to no nutritional value.

If you are pregnant, avoid alcohol.18

Many common store-bought herbal teas, such as ginger, chamomile, and fruit ‘zinger’ blends, are safe to drink in moderation while pregnant and can contribute to your daily water intake.17

Some professionals recommend sticking to just 2 cups of herbal tea per day.17

Note that some herbal teas should be avoided, so always chat with your healthcare provider to ensure the tea you’d like to drink is safe during pregnancy.

Read more: Can My Baby Drink Juice? How Much Juice Should My Family Drink?

Extra tips for drinking enough even if you’re peeing plenty

1. Drink more fluid earlier in the day

Starting earlier in the day will not only help you reach your fluid intake goals sooner, but it will also help you limit those bathroom trips to waking hours and preserve much-needed sleep!

2. Drink between, rather than with, meals

As your baby grows, your abdominal organs become compressed. Focus on food during meals and beverages between meals so you don’t put unnecessary pressure on your stomach and bladder simultaneously.

3. Elevate your legs for an hour or so before bed

If you have swelling in your legs, which for some women may happen later in pregnancy, this may cause more frequent peeing at night. The reason is that while you are lying down, the extra fluids in your legs are reabsorbed and then the kidneys can excrete that extra fluid – causing you to get up more at night to use the restroom.

By elevating your legs, you can help the body reabsorb those fluids and excrete them before bedtime.19 Wearing compression socks during the day may also help reduce how much you get up at night. Chat with your doctor if you have questions about using compression socks.

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We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.

Our Happy Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too! They’re here to offer personalized support on our free, one-on-one, live chat platform Monday - Friday 8am-6pm (ET). No appointment needed, no email or sign-up required. Chat Now!

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For more on this topic, check out the following articles:

Dehydration in Kids: How to Keep your Baby or Tot Hydrated

Meal and Hydration Plan for Supporting Milk Supply