How I Overcame Dehydration While Breastfeeding

How I Overcame Dehydration While Breastfeeding

Breaking Rule #1

Any breastfeeding mama will tell you, the number one rule of breastfeeding is to drink plenty of water. But sometimes that’s not always possible. Sometimes you try to drink water but you still get dehydrated. Sometimes you get a stomach bug or food poisoning and you can’t keep water down.

So what do we do then? How do we overcome this dehydration and still nourish our baby?

This is what I was faced with last week. I took my still breastfed 1 year old to visit my sister in San Diego. I bought a fancy cheese and fruit platter from the commercial airline, and I got a mild case of food poisoning.

I spent an entire day running to and from the bathroom, trying to nap in between episodes. But when did I make time to be a good mom? My boy was so good to me, he watched me vomiting over the toilet, and immediately clung to me for hugs when I stopped. He climbed up and snuggled with me on the bed and napped with me more often than he normally would have.

I felt like I was being a good mom through it all because he was being such a good son. But I wasn’t. He ate three puree jars and snacked all day, but I wasn’t making sure that he drank enough milk. I only breastfeed him now when he asks, since his main source of nutrition is in solids. I didn’t realize all day that he never asked to breastfeed, and I didn’t make sure that he drank enough milk from his cup. Bad mom.

The vomiting stopped in the evening, but the damage was done, for both of us.

I woke up to small boobs. The smallest they’ve been since I got pregnant. They were empty. Totally empty. It was heartbreaking. It was more heartbreaking when I realized that my boy didn’t breastfeed the day before, when I realized that he hadn’t had many wet diapers. I’d only brought 6 diapers with me for the trip and in 24 hours, I still had two left… I almost went to the ER right then, but decided to give myself 24 hours to remedy his dehydration myself.

My sister took us to the grocery store to get some supplies. I was going to need more diapers, Gatorade, water.. All that good stuff to fix these issues. I was determined to get my baby hydrated, wetting plenty of diapers and breastfeeding again in the next day. And I totally did.

Here’s how we home remedied our dehydration and loss of milk supply.


Baby first.


Always baby first, any mom will tell you that. If your baby is acting differently, refusing to eat or drink anything, then please seek medical attention immediately. If it’s just lack of wet diapers and diarrhea, you’re probably good to give yourself 24 hours to remedy the situation yourself, like I did.



I know many of us would love to exclusively breastfeed, but in a case like this, it’s going to hurt your baby a whole lot more to be stubborn here. If you’re dehydrated, you need to give your infant formula – unless you have immediate access to donor milk, which would always be ideal and wonderful, but we don’t always have access to donor milk, so formula it is.

My boy is a year old, so we try to give him almond milk, but sometimes he doesn’t like it. When I can’t get him to drink that, I mix a little Pediasure with it to sweeten it up and add some vitamins.



If your baby is anything like mine, he hates water. Pedialyte was a great way to get him hydrated and he loved the fruity flavor. We don’t normally give him juice of any kind, so it was a special treat that he was excited for.



*Only recommended for babies 6 months and older.

Even if you have an older infant or toddler who is eating true solids now, pureed fruit or applesauce are great mealtime options when baby isn’t feeling well  – especially if your little is refusing other foods. Focus on fruits with a high water content, like applesauce.



If you’ve been trying to cup train your baby off the bottle, this is a time to put that on hold. I was lucky that my son accepted his sippy cup because we only cut out bottles a week earlier. I was prepared to go buy him a new bottle though, if he hadn’t taken to the cup so well.

Just keep in mind that it’s okay to give a bottle if it’s the only way your little will drink. There’s no harm in waiting another week to start cup training.


*Three wet diapers is a bare minimum for a 1 year old to have in 24 hours. 6 or 8 is ideal. If your baby isn’t showing any signs of improvement or is refusing food or drink or acting abnormal in any way, please seek a medical professional.


Restoring Your Milk Supply


After baby is well-hydrated and accepting other milk alternatives, it’s time to get yourself back in order. Yes, you can work on both at the same time, just make baby the priority, of course.



Water is your new best friend. Drink it. 100 oz in one day. It’s not easy, you’re going to start hating the taste of it after awhile, but it’s absolutely necessary.



Blue Gatorade

What is it about the blue one? I don’t know, but hundreds of women swear by it and nearly every article out there about helping milk supply suggests it. I made it my goal to drink 2 32oz bottles of it. But of course, this and water started to both taste awful. I decided to mix things up and switch out a gatorade for a 28oz bottle of Orange Body Armor. It really helped to break up the monotony.


*My particular method for getting through all this liquid was 2 16oz water bottles, ½ gatorade, 2 water bottles, ½ Body Armor; repeat.


Mother’s Milk Tea

This tea is amazing for helping your supply. Drink three cups of it a day, one with each main meal. Let it steep for 10 minutes to get the most out of every cup.


Protein Bars

Protein is so important to your milk supply. If you’re not fueling your body, your body isn’t going to create fuel for baby. Protein bars are an easy way to know you’re getting protein in. Of course, meats, beans and veggies are the best way to get in the best forms of protein, but after a stomach bug or food poisoning, you’re lucky to be holding anything down.


Oatmeal and Ground Flaxseed

This is a great meal to start and end your day with. I like to add butter and brown sugar to mine, especially if I’m not feeling well, it makes it a nice treat.


Offer the Breast as Often as Possible

Your body isn’t going to make any milk if it doesn’t think it needs it. So offer the breast to baby every chance you get. It can be helpful to massage the breast while trying to breastfeed as well.


Power Pump!

I wish I’d had my pump with me, because this would have really sped things up. Power pumping over stimulates that breasts into thinking they are way behind in milk production – and in this case, they are! It’s a great way of boosting supply and only takes a few minutes every couple hours. Check here for more info on power pumping, nipple stimulation and the science behind it all.