Electrolytes for Breastfeeding: What You Should Know

As an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), I often emphasize the importance of nutrition for breastfeeding mothers. Today, I want to delve deeper into the role of electrolytes in supporting lactation and maternal health. This is a popular topic on social media, so I wanted to break down the information for you to enjoy!

Understanding Electrolytes

Electrolytes are vital minerals that carry electrical charges in our bodies. They are essential for maintaining proper fluid balance, nerve function, and muscle contractions. They may also impact overall energy. These minerals include:

  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Chloride
  • Sodium

Our bodies don’t create minerals on their own, so it’s important to get them through your diet. Many people can do this successfully without additional supplementation, but this isn’t always true. These minerals can be depleted through sweating, urination, and breastfeeding. Because pregnancy and breastfeeding are physical stressors, they may deplete your mineral status more.

Plain water does have electrolytes, but the amounts can vary depending on the water. Regular tap water has 2-3% of the recommended sodium, calcium, and magnesium value.

Electrolytes may help replenish these crucial minerals lost through breastfeeding and perspiration.

Why Breastfeeding Moms Need Electrolytes

The demands of lactation increase a mother’s need for hydration and electrolyte replenishment. Electrolytes support milk production and ensure optimal maternal health and energy. Without adequate electrolytes and mineral balance, both milk supply and maternal well-being may be impacted.

I never promised that incorporating electrolytes into your daily routine would help supply, but I have seen it be helpful. I also find that moms tend to have more energy and feel better overall when incorporating a high-quality source of electrolytes.

Here’s a fun fact: many farmers incorporate extra minerals and salt licks into their dairy cow’s diet. It’s thought to help increase their overall well-being, reproduction functions, water retention, and milk supply, among other things. Penn State Extension says, “All dairy cows require minerals, and the amounts found in most feeds normally are inadequate for high milk production or growth. If these requirements are not met, deficiency symptoms can occur.”

While women certainly aren’t dairy cows, what we know about dairy cows might apply to humans, as many of the functions of milk production are similar.

Many women find drinking water helpful for their milk production and overall wellness. However, according to an article at the University of Utah, “Over hydration can impact the posterior pituitary, decreasing the hormonal regulation, and thus decreasing milk supply. Additionally, the body adjusts to regulate electrolytes, further impacting milk production.” Drinking to thirst

There isn’t any research on the value of minerals/electrolyte supplementation for breastfeeding, but anecdotally, I have seen quality sources helping moms with their overall wellness, energy, and supply.

Blood work or hair mineral testing might help you get a better picture to your overall mineral status.

Electrolyte Sources

There are a variety of ways to ensure you are getting proper electrolytes into your daily regimen – and food sources are always ideal. I go in-depth about different options in this article about the best electrolytes for breastfeeding.

As an IBCLC, I encourage breastfeeding mothers to prioritize hydration and electrolyte replenishment for optimal lactation and maternal well-being. By incorporating electrolyte-rich options into their diet, mothers can nourish themselves, improve their energy, and support a healthy breastfeeding journey.

Of course, I recommend working 1:1 with a lactation consultant to help you navigate your specific situation. Be sure to consider booking a virtual consultant with a member of my team!

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