Milk, cheese and cream are dairy items that are healthy
to eat during pregnancy as they provide the much needed
and easily absorbed calcium (essential for your baby's
bones and teeth), protein and some vitamins. Dairy
foods are also a good source of protein for women
who are on a meat-less diet.
Goodness of Dairy
• Milk is said to be the nearest thing to
being a complete food. Whether skimmed or whole,
milk contains good quantities of calcium, protein
and riboflavin, vitamin B2 and B6, magnesium and
zinc. Since full fat milk is high in saturated fats,
semi skimmed or skimmed milk make better options.
Make it a practice to drink milk on its own or with
• Cheddar cheese is a good source of the bone
and teeth- growing nutrient calcium, and phosphorus
and your baby needs a good supply of both of these
minerals. Second to this is ricotta cheese which
is a low fat and calcium-rich variety.
• Yogurt which is fermented milk contains
all the goodness of milk; it is rich in calcium,
phosphorus and B2 for energy. Choose low fat versions
and plain over flavored if your palate permits.
• Cheeses that are safe to eat include hard
cheese like cheddar, parmesan. Softer cheeses that
do not have any mould or rind and are made from
pasteurized milk e.g. cottage cheese, processed
cheese, cheese spreads and mozzarella are also safe
choices. To play safe, cook all soft cheeses till
they are bubbling.
• Use only pasteurized dairy products. Read
food labels when shopping
• Bad choices include mold ripened cheeses
such as Brie and Camembert, feta cheese, goat's
cheese, blue cheeses or any cheese made from unpasterized
milk. Pasteurized dairy, including those mentioned
above are safe bets e.g. Brie cheese labeled pasteurized
is safe for pregnant women.
• When unsure read the label. Avoid eating
altogether if you are absolutely uncertain or make
sure the cheese is cooked until bubbling.
• Raw milk and cream from cow, goat and sheep
which has not been pasteurized should be avoided
during pregnancy. They may contain harmful bacteria
and other organisms. It is best to avoid raw milk
from the time you plan to have a baby to the time
you finish breastfeeding.
• Pasteurized milk from cow, goat and sheep
are safe for consumption
• Try using reduced fat milks, yogurts and
cheese. Low fat dairy contain the same percentage
of calcium but less fat.
• Store all dairy products in the refrigerator
and this includes pasteurized dairy as they can
become contaminated if left at room temperature.
Do not use them after the expiration date or if
they smell or look suspicious.
• Discard soft dairy products e.g. sour cream,
yogurt butter even if they have slight mold on top
• Food items such as dairy can pose a risk to
your well being if caution is not practiced. It is
sensible to avoid foods that are major sources of
listeria during the planning stages and throughout
• Foods contaminated with harmful bacteria listeria
can cause listeriosis. Pregnant women are at an increased
risk of coming down with this infection because of
their suppressed immune systems.
• Listeria monocytogenes, a food borne organism
causes flu like symptoms and manifests after 2-3 days
of eating a contaminated food.
• It can lead to infection in the newborn including
meningitis or could cause miscarriage or stillbirth.
• Unlike other bacteria, listeria enters the
bloodstream directly and into the fetus's system rather
• Although listeria is destroyed during cooking,
it can grow in the refrigerator and survive in the
• Inform your doctor immediately if you experience
fever, chills, headache or nausea or any other flu-like