September 2017: Milk Talk

By Namrata Trivedi, BMSG Board Member and Dietitian

Once breastfeeding is well established, our breastmilk volume would increase from a meagre 50ml to as much as 750ml a day to meet a baby’s demand. So it would be prudent to assume that the rise in our milk volume coupled with the hot climate we live in would increase our requirement for fluids during this crucial time. We should aim to drink at least 1.5 to 2 litres of water each day in general, although requirements may vary, as some mothers may need to drink more water each day when breastfeeding is well established. Some mothers may end up getting hemorrhoids when they don’t drink enough water.

Thirst is a good indicator of your fluid needs. If you are worried that you may forget, pour out water in a jug in the morning and try to drink it all up by the end of the day. Your water needs can be also be met by including a variety of nutritious fluids such as milk, unsweetened juices and soup. (1)

Whilst the long term risks of consuming alcohol during breastfeeding are not as well defined as during pregnancy, it is established that alcohol passes through to the breastmilk and excess consumption may decrease your milk supply and cause the baby to suckle less. (2) Therefore, it would be wise to limit alcohol to an occasional glass and wait for a few hours before breastfeeding to minimize the amount of alcohol that’s passed on to your baby.

Some extra fluid tips when breastfeeding:

– Keep a large bottle of water at the places where you usually breastfeed or pump.

– Drink a glass of water or other beverage every time you sit to breastfeed or pump.

– Limit tea and coffee to in-between meals in order not to interfere too much with iron absorption.

– Caffeine, found in coffee, tea and some soft drinks is a diuretic that causes us to pass out more fluids and cause dehydration so limit your caffeine intake. Do note that alcohol is also a diuretic.

– Some beverages, such as soft drinks and fruit drinks, also contain added sugars. Limit your intake of these beverages especially if you are gaining too much weight.

Reference:

1) Ministry of Health, HealthHub, contributed by Health Promotion Board 2015, accessed 16 August 2017, https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/159/eating_guide_breastfeeding_mothers

2) American Academy of Pediatrics. Policy Statement. Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Pediatrics 2012;129;e827; originally published online February 27,2012. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827.full