Drinking milk during pregnancy – is it really necessary?
Beyond the gift of life, pregnancy in itself is a fascinating process where new life grows within you. From seeing your baby for the first time through the ultrasound to feeling his or her first kick, watching and feeling the growth and development of your baby is a holistic journey—one that starts with ensuring your baby’s health and well-being.
One of the best ways to make sure that your baby is healthy is by looking after your nutrition. You try to kick the bad habits and start adopting healthy ones – like drinking milk. There are a lot of prenatal milk brands in the market to help mums-to-be in their pregnancy journey. But is it really necessary?
Proper Food and Nutrition
Just as we all need the proper food to survive, you need to remember that at this time, you’re eating “for two” – both for yourself and for your baby. Thus, having a balanced diet and taking prenatal vitamins are essential for both your and your baby’s health and well-being. Your nutritional need increases when you’re pregnant since you’ll need enough nutrients and energy for your little one as well.
This includes eating and drinking a variety of food to get the nutrients you need—from 6 to 11 servings of bread and grains to 2 to 4 servings of fruit, 4 or more servings of vegetables, 3 servings of protein (meat, poultry, eggs, or nuts), and even 4 servings of dairy. And yes, this includes milk.
Benefits of Milk During Pregnancy
The same way babies are nourished with milk from their mother, you too need milk to sustain you and your baby during your pregnancy. A healthy drink that helps with proper growth and development, milk comes with a variety of nutrients.
Some of the key nutrients found in milk are:
- Calcium. Milk is known for being a good source of calcium, which is essential during pregnancy since it ensures that you and your baby will have strong and healthy bones and teeth. Additionally, calcium is important for your baby’s development, particularly for his or her heart, muscles, and nerves. In turn, you’ll need calcium to lower your risk of getting osteoporosis and to prevent bone loss later in life.
- Vitamins B and D. Milk is rich in vitamins B and D, which your baby needs to grow healthy and strong. Milk contains a good amount of B vitamins, riboflavin, folates, and Vitamin B12, which reduces the risk of birth defects and helps in producing red blood cells.
On the other hand, Vitamin D works hand in hand with calcium, since it helps you absorb the mineral better. It helps keep you and your baby’s immune system healthy and contributes to a healthy birth weight. Since you can’t get Vitamin D in a lot of food, you’re better off getting that from milk that is fortified with enough Vitamin D for your needs.
- Protein. An essential nutrient for every person, proteins are especially important in a baby’s growth and development—particularly in building healthy new cells. This is important in the second and third trimesters since that’s when most of the development happens.
Since the kind of protein that you take in is especially important, it’s good to note that the protein found in milk is considered as a complete protein. This means that it has all the amino acids you need to function. This helps in the baby’s brain development. Plus, it’s easily absorbable and digestible, which means that you and your baby get to use all the protein that’s being taken in.
Drinking milk during your pregnancy also helps lower the possibility of heartburn. Instead of taking antacids or other medication without your doctor’s advice, you can help relieve the symptoms with milk or yogurt. They’re alkaline food that can neutralise the stomach acids in your body and help lower acidity. Plus, yogurt is a good source of probiotics, which is very good for your digestive health.
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What Kind of Milk Should You Drink?
There are many different kinds of milk available in the market, like plant-based or milk from animals. Each one has its own set of benefits and corresponding flavour profile, which is why we’ve listed some of the common variants you can choose from:
Image source: iStock
- Cow’s Milk: abundantly available and consumed by kids and adults alike. It’s rich in calcium and vitamins A, D, and E. The proteins and amino acids in cow’s milk help build cells for both you and your baby. Vitamin A helps strengthen the immune system, while Vitamin E has antioxidant properties that protect you both from diseases. On the other hand, Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium better.
- Goat’s Milk: a highly nutritious milk, though not a popular choice among people because of its distinct, fatty taste. It’s rich in protein and Vitamin B2. The healthy dietary fats in goat’s milk help lower cholesterol levels and aid in digestion, along with speeding up the metabolic process.
- Soy Milk: a non-dairy alternative for vegans and lactose-intolerant people. It’s made from soybeans, making it rich in calcium and contains heart-healthy fat. It’s cholesterol-free and rich in antioxidants that help fight cancer and boost immunity.
- Almond Milk: non-dairy milk for vegans and lactose-intolerant people. It has a distinct nutty taste and a thin consistency. Almond milk is rich in folic acid, Vitamin B, and E, as well as calcium and iron. It also has fibre, which is beneficial for digestive health. Plus, it’s low in calories and saturated fat.
- Milk Powder: instant formula made from natural pasteurized milk. It has the same nutritional content as cow’s milk, such as calcium and vitamins. Most of the prenatal milk brands in the market are fortified with the following nutrients:
- Folic Acid: prevents fetal neural tube defect
- Iron: enhanced levels support the formation of red blood cells in pregnant women
- Calcium: helps strengthen bones and teeth.
- Zinc: helps the central nervous system develop and function
- Choline: supports cognitive function, with 560mg/ 100g of Choline
- Iodine: helps thyroid hormones function normally
When to start drinking milk during pregnancy
Because of the benefits that drinking milk brings to our health, it is recommended that you include this superfood (or super drink) to your diet. Adults are recommended to have 2 to 3 glasses of milk a day to meet our body’s protein needs. So when is the best time to start drinking milk during pregnancy? Our answer is as soon as possible!
However, some pregnant women report have indigestion and digestive problems when drinking milk, while some are just lactose intolerant, and some cannot stand it during their first trimester (morning sickness). So while drinking milk can be beneficial, you can also try to consume other alternatives to meet your daily recommended protein and calcium intake.
Moreover, if you suffer from heartburn, indigestion or you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, ask your doctor which brand of maternal milk is best for you.
Republished with permission from theAsianparent Philippines.
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.