Can you eat milk when you’re pregnant?

In this article we are going to answer can you eat milk when pregnant, what is defined as milk, is it healthy to eat milk when pregnant, what are the benefits of milk when pregnant, and why should you avoid drinking too much milk when pregnant, and what milk is the best when pregnant. 

Can you eat milk when you’re pregnant?

Yes, you can eat milk products and drink milk when pregnant but only if milk has been pasteurized. Unpasteurized milk or raw milk is not sterilized and can have food-poisoning bacteria such as E. Coli, salmonella, listeria, and toxoplasma gondii. 

Super-market or commercial products with milk are usually pasteurized because of food regulations. Be careful with products bought in little stores, farmer markets, or any products that do not specify that milk has been pasteurized. 

What is defined as milk?

Milk is defined as a white fluid rich in fat and proteins that are secreted by female mammals for the nourishment of the young mammal. It can be drawn by hand or manually. The major components of milk are water, fat, protein, carbohydrate (lactose), and minerals. 

It has a lot of highly important micronutrients like vitamins, essential amino acids, and trace elements. Cow’s milk has been linked to preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy weight. 

Cow’s milk is available in different presentations such as

  • Fat-free or skim milk 
  • Low fat or 1%
  • Reduced fat or 2%
  • Whole or full-fat milk 
  • Lactose-free

You can also find milk products such as cheese, yogurt, kefir, and products that contain milk in their ingredients. 

Some people do not tolerate cow’s milk because of lactose intolerance or allergy to the protein of cow’s milk. There are some substitutes for milk in the market

  • Rice milk
  • Soy milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Almond milk
  • Oat milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Pea milk

Is it healthy to eat milk when pregnant?

Yes, drinking cows milk or eating dairy products is healthy. One serving of milk, about 8 ounces, provides a good amount of protein, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D. 

It is best to drink or eat products with skim milk or low-fat milk because whole milk contains a high amount of fat and more calories. One cup of whole milk gives you 150 calories while 1%  milk gives you 110 calories and skim milk just 80 calories.

The removal of fat from fat-free milk removes key vitamins such as vitamin E, vitamin D, and vitamin K that need fat to be absorbed by the body. 

Another option for milk, if you have lactose intolerance is to choose lactose-free milk which is also a good source of protein, calcium, vitamins, and minerals. Fat content in lactose-free milk depends on the brand. 

What are the benefits of milk when pregnant?

Milk and milk products are an excellent source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D. For pregnant women, these nutrients are very important for bone health. They are especially important for the bones of the growing baby. 

Also, milk can be a good antacid if you have heartburn. 

What is the risk of drinking unpasteurized milk when pregnant?

Unpasteurized milk or raw milk can increase the risk of food-borne infection. Food-borne illnesses in pregnant women present a more serious health risk. 

Although nowadays it’s very difficult to catch an infection, unpasteurized milk or raw milk presents a higher risk of contamination. The three main diseases you can contract if you eat raw milk or unpasteurized milk are toxoplasmosis, salmonella, and listeriosis. 

Listeria monocytogenes

Listeria monocytogenes cause listeriosis. If you let the bacteria go too far, it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and other health problems. It can cause respiratory tract symptoms, septicemia, and encephalitis. 

According to the American Pregnancy Association, approximately 2,5000 people will get infected with listeria every year. It means that it’s very rare to get infected but pregnant women are in a more delicate condition and need to be a little more careful because it could lead to fatal health conditions. 

Listeria has been linked to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, septicemia, and pneumonia in the newborn baby. 

Toxoplasma Gondii

Toxoplasma Gondii is the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis. For a normal, healthy person, it usually doesn’t cause any symptoms but for pregnant women, it’s too risky, it can cause serious health problems.  One important thing to add is that once you contract toxoplasmosis you can’t contract it again. 

It has been linked with poor health of the unborn baby with problems such as chorioretinitis, mental retardation, hearing loss, blindness, or epilepsy. 


Salmonella is a bacteria that can be very dangerous in pregnant women. It also causes digestive symptoms like the other pathogens listed above. One important thing about salmonella is that it can cause bacteremia, a condition where there is bacteria in the blood and can be fatal to pregnant women. 

Symptoms include

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chills and fevers
  • Muscle pain
  • In pregnant women, it may cause flu-like symptoms with fever and chills 

So why are pregnant women more likely to get infected? Because their immune system is compromised and does not work as well as for a healthy person. Also, remember that while the baby is not fully developed, the baby it’s at risk too. 

Why should you avoid drinking too much milk when pregnant?

Milk interferes with the correct absorption of iron. It is common for pregnant women to have iron deficiency and taking too much milk can have serious consequences. Iron deficiency can lead to premature labor and low birth weight. 

Too much milk refers to more than 3 glasses of milk per day or if milk consumption interferes with food intake. So keep your milk intake to no more than 2 glasses of milk per day and choose skim milk or 1% milk. 

What milk is best when pregnant?

There is no better or best milk for you to drink when pregnant. You can choose to drink skim milk, 1% milk, or milk alternatives such as almond or soy milk. Just look that the milk you choose contains vitamin D and calcium so it can be a good source of vitamins. 

If you choose milk alternatives, look for unsweetened or original flavors so you don’t add too much sugar. Normal cow’s milk, with no flavor added, does not contain any added sugar, just carbohydrates that milk naturally contains. 

Follow this link for the best dairy milk brands to buy. 

Other FAQs about Milk that you may be interested in.

What is sweetened condensed milk?

Can you eat milk when sick?

​​Can you eat milk when breastfeeding?


This article answered can you eat milk when pregnant, what is defined as milk, what is healthy to eat milk when pregnant, what are the benefits of milk when pregnant, why should you avoid drinking too much milk when pregnant, and what milk is best when pregnant.