Breastfeeding requires good hydration on the part of the nursing mother. You might notice a dip in your milk supply if you’re not drinking enough fluids while breastfeeding.
Coconut water is the more popular choice among new mothers, but both coconut drinks can be good options while breastfeeding; Coconut water provides more electrolytes while coconut milk is higher in calcium and lower in sugar. (And by the way – you can easily make your own coconut milk.)
What’s the difference between coconut water vs. coconut milk?
Both made from coconut fruit, coconut water and coconut milk are very different nutrition-wise. Coconut water is the liquid inside young coconuts and is clear like water. Coconut water doesn’t contain fat but is rich in natural sugars and electrolytes.
Coconut milk is made by heating the high-fat pulp of coconuts in hot water and then straining the liquid and then diluting it with water to form a creamy, drinkable non-dairy milk. Unsweetened coconut milk (in the carton, not canned) is very low in carbohydrates and free of sugars and has around four grams of fat per cup.
Nutritional comparison: coconut water vs. coconut milk
- Naturally a good source of electrolytes, which can promote normal fluid balance and support hydration
- Much lower in sugar compared to other popular breastfeeding drinks
- Lower in carbohydrates and sugar for breastfeeding mothers wanting to limit carbs
- Higher in calcium to meet lactating mothers’ increased calcium needs while nursing
|Per one cup serving||Coconut milk¹||Coconut water²|
|Total Fat||4 g||0 g|
|Saturated Fat||3.5 g||0 g|
|Carbohydrates||2 g||10 g|
|Sugars||0 g||6 g|
|Protein||0 g||0 g|
|Keto friendly?||Yes, when unsweetened||Not generally|
|Allergens?||Tree nuts||Tree nuts|
How to consume coconut milk and coconut water while breastfeeding
Both coconut milk and coconut water can be used while breastfeeding. Ideally, you should choose unsweetened versions of both coconut milk and coconut water to avoid excess sugar intake, especially if you had gestational diabetes during your pregnancy.
You can drink coconut milk and coconut water on their own while lactating, but coconut water is more popular for doing so. Coconut milk can be used with cereal, in coffee, or in smoothies thanks to its creamy texture.
Comparing coconut milk and coconut water against other popular breastfeeding drinks
Several drinks have gained popularity on social media for the claims that they can boost your milk supply. Let’s compare coconut milk and coconut water against three other popular breastfeeding drinks: Starbucks’ “Pink Drink”, Body Armor, and Gatorade.
*Interesting fact: Body Armor contains coconut water and Starbucks Pink Drink contains coconut milk.
|Unsweetened coconut milk (8 oz serving)||Unsweetened coconut water (8 oz serving)||Starbucks’ “Pink Drink” (12 oz serving)||Body Armor – Strawberry Banana flavor (12 oz serving)||Gatorade – lime (12 oz serving)|
|Total fat||4 g||0 g||2 g||0 g||0 g|
|Saturated fat||3.5 g||0 g||1.5 g||0 g||0 g|
|Total carbs||2 g||10 g||22 g||21 g||22 g|
|Total sugars||0 g||6 g||19 g||21 g||21 g|
|Added sugars||–||0 g||Not specified, but most of the sugar is from cane sugar (added)||19 g||21 g|
|Protein||0 g||0 g||0 g||0g||0 g|
|Sodium (electrolyte)||10 mg||46 mg||50 mg||30 mg||160 mg|
|Potassium (electrolyte)||40 mg||420 mg||–||530 mg||50 mg|
Sources: USDA, BodyArmor, Starbucks, Gatorade
Bottom line: Coconut water is a good source of natural electrolytes while being lower in sugar and calories compared to other popular breastfeeding drinks. Coconut water is also free of added sugar.
Coconut milk isn’t as rich in electrolytes like sodium and potassium, but it’s free of added sugar, making coconut milk and coconut water healthier choices than the other popular drinks. It’s also a great source of calcium when fortified.
Staying adequately hydrated is one of the most important aspects of maintaining your breastmilk supply. Contrary to popular belief, specific foods and drinks are generally not enough to increase your milk supply. Instead, nursing or pumping more frequently is the most efficient way to boost milk supply.
If you have a difficult time drinking enough water while breastfeeding, coconut water might help you increase your milk supply if you were previously dehydrated. If you’ve generally been good at staying hydrated, coconut water won’t likely increase your milk supply any more than regular water.
Coconut products are safe to consume while you’re breastfeeding, including coconut milk and coconut water. You likely don’t need to omit any particular foods from your diet unless your child’s pediatrician suggests it, and even then, the most common offender is typically dairy in the mother’s diet. Fortified coconut milk is a good option for meeting calcium needs while breastfeeding if you need or choose to avoid cow’s milk.
Coconut milk is preferable for smoothies because of its creamy texture, but coconut water can also be used. Here are 10 healthy smoothie recipes…one of them (Tropical Twist) uses both!
Coconut water is higher in electrolytes such as sodium and potassium compared to coconut milk. Coconut milk doesn’t naturally contain many electrolytes, though it is often fortified with calcium, which is considered an electrolyte but is not often added to rehydrating drinks.
While coconut water is a hydrating drink, it does contain natural sugar and calories whereas regular water does not. Drinking only coconut water instead of regular water would likely contribute extra calories and sugar to your diet, which could result in unwanted weight gain or blood sugar problems.