When you’re pregnant you only want to provide what’s best for your growing baby. But it can be hard to know what you should and shouldn’t be consuming. Milk provides significant nutrients for pregnant women, but how do you decide which kind of milk is best? We’ve created a simple guide to help you choose…
Is cow’s milk safe for pregnant women?
Whether you prefer fat free, flavoured skimmed milk or whole milk, all varieties of cow’s milk are rich in amino acids that help build cells for you and your baby. Cow’s milk is also full of calcium, an essential nutrient for helping your baby grow a healthy heart, nerves and muscles. It’s important for developing a normal heart rhythm and blood-clotting abilities too. Just to give you an idea, a glass of cow’s milk contains 310mg of calcium, a quarter of your recommended daily intake.
Vitamin B12 is important during pregnancy as it helps make DNA and keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy. Just one glass of cow’s milk contains a healthy 2.3 micrograms (mcg) of the stuff. The National Institutes of Health recommends pregnant and nursing mums consume 2.8 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 per day.
Do you know how that all-important calcium is regulated in the body? With the help of vitamin D, so it’s important to have it in your diet. The problem is, UK cow’s milk is generally not a good source of vitamin D because it isn’t fortified (as it is in some other countries). You’ll find vitamin D in infant milk formula, some breakfast cereals, fat spreads and most non-dairy milk alternatives. That said, it’s still not easy getting a good dose of vitamin D from food alone. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement (10mcg).
If you’re a fan of cow’s milk, just be careful not to drink raw (unpasteurised) milk during pregnancy. The pasteurisation process heats dairy products to a high temperature to kill microbes that can cause disease.
What are the safest milk alternatives when pregnant?
If you don’t like the taste of dairy or don’t drink it due to health or ethical reasons, there are many good substitutes in the form of milk alternatives. Looking at soya, oat and almond milk, all have their own benefits.
Soya milk: Produced from pressing ground, cooked soybeans, soya milk is a good source of protein during pregnancy as it contains the eight essential amino acids which the human body needs**. One 250ml glass of soya milk contains 7.5g of protein while a same-sized glass of almond milk has only 1.25g and oat milk even less containing only 0.75g of protein.
Oat milk: Made with pre-soaked oat groats that are hulled grains broken into fragments, oat milk is high in fibre. One 250ml glass of oat milk contains 3.5g of fibre in comparison to soya milk at 1.25g and almond milk at 1g. This extra fibre helps prevent constipation during pregnancy, control food craving, help transport oxygen to cells and monitor blood sugar levels.
Almond milk: Almond milk is made from grounded almonds and water. With only 60 calories a glass (the unsweetened version containing only 32.5 calories), it’s less than half the calories of semi-skimmed milk, and significantly less than soya milk and oat milk at 97.5 and 105 calories a glass. Almond milk also contains less than a third of the sat fat of soya milk°°.
°°Compared to original soya milk and based on a 100ml serving.
Information from Goodness+ is not intended to be used for medical purposes or as a substitute for professional medical or health advice.