What to Know About Staying Hydrated While Pregnant and Breastfeeding

Medically Reviewed by Mahammad Juber, MD on April 12, 2022
4 min read

Staying hydrated while pregnant and breastfeeding can be challenging. But staying hydrated while pregnant provides water needed to form the amniotic fluid that cushions your baby. Knowing what to drink while pregnant is vital for your health and your baby's safety. You should also know the symptoms of dehydration in pregnancy to avoid its dangers.

Staying well-hydrated while pregnant is essential. Your body needs that water to.

  • Make the amniotic fluid in the womb that keeps your baby safe
  • Produce extra blood to supply your baby
  • Improve your digestion
  • Carry the extra nutrients you're eating
  • Remove waste products

Staying hydrated requires a conscious effort to have plenty of liquids. During pregnancy, you need 8 to 12 cups of water a day. When you're breastfeeding, your needs are greater.
You may not like to drink so much plain water. An option is to replace two or three cups with milk. Milk not only contains plenty of water, but it will also provide calcium and other nutrients. Try to have low-fat or skimmed milk, and do not have unpasteurized milk.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that you have 64 to 96 ounces (1.9 to 2.8 liters) of water a day while you are pregnant. That comes to 8 to 12 cups of water every day.

A lot of food, like fruits and vegetables, contains water. They're components of a healthy diet and provide several essential nutrients for you and your baby. About a fifth of your water requirement is met by the water in solid food.

It's very important that you drink plenty of water and stay hydrated during pregnancy. Your hydration directly affects the amniotic fluid, the liquid inside your womb in which your baby floats safely. If you are dehydrated, the amniotic fluid could reduce, causing oligohydramnios.

An adequate water intake is essential when you're breastfeeding. Try to drink a glass of water every time you feed your baby. You needn't count your cups of water, but drink enough so that you rarely feel thirsty. You lose about 25 ounces of water in breast milk every day.

Your fluid needs increase a lot while you're breastfeeding. You should have 128 ounces (3.8 liters or 16 cups) of water a day. 

Your water intake is essential for your baby, too. Water makes up 75% of the body weight of a newborn baby. Breast milk is the only source of both nutrition and water for a baby. 

Pregnancy often makes it hard for you to eat and drink well. Especially in the first few weeks, you may experience significant nausea and vomiting. These often cause dehydration.

Sometimes, nausea and vomiting are severe and continue for the entire pregnancy. You may be unable to keep any food or drink down. This condition, hyperemesis gravidarum, can cause dangerous dehydration. You should let your physician know and follow their treatment. 

Watch for the signs of dehydration:

  • Infrequent urine passage
  • Dark yellow color of urine
  • Dry tongue and mouth
  • Stopped sweating
  • Feeling tired, light-headed, or dizzy

Pregnancy is a very delicate time. Any disturbance of hydration can put both you and your baby at risk. Dehydration during pregnancy can reduce a baby's growth. Their weight, head circumference, and length may all be smaller at birth.

Dehydration occurring over a short time is also dangerous. You might lose a lot of water because of vomiting or diarrhea, for example. If you don't drink extra liquids to compensate, you could get dehydrated. Rapid dehydration can make you feel weak and dizzy. Your blood pressure may also fall, a condition called hypotension. If you have severe dehydration and hypotension, your physician may hospitalize you for intravenous fluids. 

You need at least 2 liters of water a day during pregnancy. The best drink is water, of course. If you find it hard to drink so much of it, add flavors like lemon or raspberry to it. Other ways to keep yourself well-hydrated:

  • Drink milk and fruit juices. They contain lots of water. 
  • Vegetables and fruits contain water, too. Eat more of them.
  • Drink water often. You should rarely feel thirsty.
  • Avoid going out in the heat. 
  • Exercise indoors or during the cooler parts of the day.

If you're drinking enough water, you should be passing urine often. Your urine should be colorless or pale yellow. 

You must avoid alcoholic drinks. Alcohol crosses the placenta and reaches the baby, causing the fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). This condition has lifelong effects and causes difficulties at school and employment. There is no safe amount or timing for alcohol use in pregnancy.

Water is an excellent drink while breastfeeding. Milk is also very good — it provides much-needed calcium, protein, and other nutrients. Fruit juices without added flavoring, sugar, and colors are healthy choices for staying hydrated while breastfeeding.

Avoid drinks with caffeine. It passes through breast milk to your baby and isn't good for them. Up to 300 milligrams of caffeine a day (about 3 cups of coffee) is considered safe, but less is better. Caffeine is also found in many chocolates, sodas, and energy drinks.

Avoiding alcohol is also a good idea since it reaches breast milk. You should have no more than one drink a day, and try to have it just after breastfeeding or pumping.

More than half of women are dehydrated during pregnancy. Urine frequency and color are good indicators of your hydration. Consciously drinking enough water is key to staying hydrated during pregnancy and breastfeeding.