You may hear that you need to drink lots of fluids to keep up the supply of milk, but you only require enough fluids to satisfy your thirst while breastfeeding.
Drinking copious amounts of water or going thirsty once in a while, won't affect the quantity of milk that you produce. Your body will regulate itself to ensure a steady milk supply for the baby.
However, it's a good idea to have a drink near you when feeding as your body releases the hormone oxytocin and you may find that you are naturally thirstier when nursing.
How can you tell if you are getting enough to drink? Just keep an eye on your urine colour. If you're getting plenty to drink, it will be pale in coloured. On the other hand, if your urine is dark yellow and has a strong smell, it means you are dehydrated so you will need to drink more fluids.
Water is an ideal way to stay hydrated, but it is not the only way. Soups, fruit and vegetable juices are excellent for replenishing fluids. A nursing mother does not require milk to make milk. Calcium is important, but milk is not it's only source. Yoghurt and cheeses are also great sources of calcium. Other good sources of calcium include canned fish, such as salmon or mackerel, anchovy paste, whole grains, whole grain flours, and green, leafy vegetables. Almonds or other types of nuts and dry fruit, such as walnuts and dry figs are also high in calcium, but consume these in moderation. They have a high caloric content.
A moderate intake of caffeine generally causes no problems during breastfeeding. If the caffeine consumption per day is greater than the amount found in five five-ounce cups of coffee, the caffeine could begin to accumulate in the baby. A baby that is over stimulated by caffeine will be more alert, active, have disrupted sleep patterns, and may be unusually fussy. If you suspect that your baby is reacting to caffeine, gradually cut back on caffeine for a week and watch her for signs of improvement.
If you drink alcohol, don't consume more than one or two units once or twice a week. According to the Department of Health, if you're breastfeeding, follow the same rules that apply to drinking during pregnancy; a glass of wine has roughly between one and a half units and two and a half units, depending on the wine, a pint of strong lager is three units and an alcopop has one and a half units.
Alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream and then into your breast milk. This occurs at different rates and depends on how much you weigh and whether or not you have had something to eat. Alcohol levels peaks in the blood usually peaks about thirty to forty-five minutes after you consume it. You require at least an hour or two for your body to clear itself of one unit of alcohol. Drinking a large amount of water, resting, or expressing your milk after you have had a drink and then throwing it away (popularly known as "pumping and dumping"), won't get rid of the alcohol any faster.
If you want to have a drink when you are breastfeeding, feed your baby first and have a drink afterwards. Then two or three hours later, when it's time to feed your baby again, your blood alcohol level will have dropped, and therefore it will be low in your breast milk, and less likely to affect the baby. But keep in mind, if the baby is a newborn, they may need to be fed more often than every two or three hours. In this case, you may want to stick to something non-alcoholic.
4. Herbal tea
Most herbal teas are safe to drink when you are breastfeeding. Herbal teas which use ingredients that you cook with, such as fennel, camomile and peppermint, are thought to be safe. Herbal medicinal teas are a different matter. These definitely should not be taken while breastfeeding. For example, it is unsafe to use St. John's Wort to treat the symptoms of postnatal depression.