by Katie Madden, RN, BSN, IBCLC

In my quest to lead a healthier lifestyle, one key component I’ve had to change is the amounts and types of fluids I consume each day. I’ve included some tips below along with my routine so that you can make sure you’re drinking enough.

Here’s what I drink: Water, smoothie, water, coffee, water, water, water.

I have a handful of drugs that keep me running day to day. Zoloft is one of those. Caffeine is another.

Drugs are great in the proper doses. Too little and you don’t get the benefit or “fix” from it, too much and you have unwanted side effects.

When I am not taking good care of myself, the caffeine gets to toxic levels in my system. For me, that looks like pressured speech, dizziness, and labile moods. It isn’t always a bad thing. I can get a lot of creative work done when on a caffeine high, but, like most highs that go too high, the lows that come with it get really low.

To top it off, I am known to drink coffee instead of eat food or drink water.

I have been aware of my unhealthy relationship with caffeine for some years now. From time to time I get control of it, then it grabs ahold of me again.

This time around, I figured out a strategy that works: my daily drinking system.

My system:

When I wake up, I drink water to thirst as I get ready. I like my water cold, in the fridge, in my Nalgene bottle (which means I need to remember to fill it the night before).

I then drink my smoothie on the way to work and water to thirst.

My rule: I must finish my smoothie before I drink my coffee.

Then I get my coffee at work (once or twice a week I treat myself to a Dunkin mocha with cream or a Brew Ha Ha skinny thin mint latte).

I am good with one or two small cups of coffee at work. Like ten ounces at most. Once I start dipping into the 16-20 ounce range, things get ugly. If I do drink extra coffee, I also drink extra water.

I try to finish at least half of my first Nalgene bottle of water (16 ounces) by snack time.

Between snack and lunch, I finish my Nalgene bottle (an additional 16 ounces) and refill for lunch (I have a water cooler right outside my office!).

After lunch but before the end of the work day, I finish that second Nalgene and refill for my trip home. I try to get through the third Nalgene bottle by bedtime.

My water goal:

Sixty-four to 96 ounces (aka two to three Nalgene Bottles) of water per day.

As an adult human burning 500 calories a day by making milk or exercising, you should aim to drink no less than 64 ounces of water per day, or about half your weight in pounds.

(So, if you weigh 145 pounds, divide by two, and you get 72.5. Your water goal should be about 72 ounces daily.)

How I made myself drink more water:

I got the right bottle that makes me happy. Mine is pink, has a small mouth opening, and is durable. Having a special water bottle that you enjoy drinking out of and that counts your ounces is key. Do you like a straw? Get a straw cup!

I started out by cutting in tea and fruit juice. This helped me get used to drinking so much boring water when I really wanted coffee. If straight water doesn’t do it for you, make one part tea (lactation tea anyone?), three parts water, and a splash of grape juice or pomegranate juice.

If you are a pregnant or breastfeeding mom you need to be careful of too much green tea because there is a lot of caffeine in it, but I also did the tea and water technique with green tea to help prolong the caffeine high I wasn’t getting from my IV drip of coffee. I think this is good for revving up metabolism, too. So, if you aren’t a pregnant or breastfeeding mom, green tea is a good option.

As you see in my drinking schedule, I have benchmarks throughout my day where I have to get a certain amount of water in by a certain point. This is good for say, lunch, because I fill up on the reminder on my first bottle of water before I start my lunch to prevent me from “eating my thirst.”

This is really easy for a breastfeeding mom—just get eight ounces of water in every time you breastfeed! That will get you 64-96 ounces per day no problem!

The breakfast smoothie:

I have realized that I am rarely hungry in the morning. Or, I am not hungry for food. Or, I never know what to eat in the morning. Or, I need to be able to eat it while driving to work. Since February, I have started my day with a smoothie every day. It seems that when I drink a smoothie first, it is easier to stay on track all day long.

Here is my magic combination in my NutriBullet (my favorite blender).

  • ~ 8 ounces of almond coconut milk
  • ~ 1 cup of raw baby spinach
  • ½ banana
  • 1 scoop protein powder (20 grams) I like this one since it is flavorless, pure protein.
  • Fruit: I have been seasonal lately. Honeydew was my summer jam. This fall I have been using baked apples & plums and warming up the whole smoothie.
  • Two tablespoons of quick oats
  • A few nuts (almonds, walnuts)

Breastfeeding moms: There are a ton of lactation smoothies you can make as well. If you use my base, you can add brewers yeast, fenugreek seed, flax seed, flax meal, and oats. Just be sure there is plenty of protein in it.

If I have learned anything about smoothies, it is that it has to be the right taste and the right consistency. You have to love your smoothie… and it takes a lot of practice and experimentation to get it just right. Once you get it, though, you have a healthy on-the-go breakfast—crucial for any Pumpin’ Mama trying to get out the door in the morning.

Staying hydrated is a key part of a good self-care routine, and a relatively easy (and especially necessary) one for pregnanct and milk makin’ mamas to incorporate into their new routines.

Originally featured on Balanced Breastfeeding’s blog.