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Getting enough nutrients is critical for the growth of the baby and your well-being during pregnancy. Milk has been a rich source of all the essential nutrients to the human body for centuries. As many pregnant women are not sure on what type of milk to choose and how much to drink, read further to know everything you need to know about milk and its benefits.
Benefits of Drinking Milk in Pregnancy
- Milk is highly nutritious and is a vital source of calcium and vitamin D for women during pregnancy. Pregnant women need between 1000 and 1300 mg of calcium every day to nourish their body and the body of their developing baby. It is recommended that they consume three cups of milk every day to meet the daily requirement.
- Studies show that women who have at least 150 ml of milk a day are more likely to have taller, healthier children who grow faster than non-milk drinkers. They also have higher levels of insulin in their blood during their late teens which reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Milk is rich in proteins, amino acids and fatty acids that are essential for the development of the baby’s nervous system. Being rich in calcium and iron, milk provides adequate nourishment for developing bones and to transport oxygen to the baby. Milk also has all the necessary A, B and D vitamins required for the intrauterine foetal development.
- Milk also acts as an effective antacid that eases heartburns and other gastric ailments common during pregnancy. It helps to keep the body hydrated throughout the day.
- The iodine content in milk has been shown to enhance foetal brain development and increase the IQ of children.
- Milk consumption in pregnancy is also linked to lowered risk of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, neonatal rickets and osteoporosis.
What Kind of Milk is Good for Pregnant Women?
The processing of milk leaves it with varying content of fat and calories. Depending on the diet of the pregnant women, they can be beneficial or provide unnecessary calories. Here are a few types of milk that pregnant women can choose from:
- Skimmed cow’s milk
Skimmed milk is low in fat content as it goes through a process where some of its saturated fats are removed to make it light. Each cup of low-fat skimmed milk provides 305 mg of calcium and 83 calories. The fat removal process also lowers the levels of some of the fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and C. Drinking 2-3 cups of skimmed milk meets all your daily calcium requirements without the extra calories.
- Whole milk
Whole milk is the opposite of skimmed and contains extra fats and nutrients that get removed in the skimming process. A cup of whole milk contains about 5 g of saturated fat and 149 calories. This is ideal if you are not overweight and enjoy full cream milk.
- Pasteurised milk
Pasteurisation is the process where milk is heated to a high temperature to destroy pathogens and enzymes that spoil the milk when it is in storage. Whether you’re choosing skimmed or whole, it must be pasteurised milk to avoid any serious diseases from occurring to you or your baby. If you enjoy drinking cold milk, then it is safest when pasteurised.
- Raw milk
Raw milk is the unpasteurised milk type which comes straight out of the cow. It often contains a host of infectious pathogens, unnecessary enzymes, and pus cells from the cow. If your only source is raw milk, then make sure it is boiled and cooled or consumed as hot milk.
Comparing Milk Types
Not all women prefer the same type of milk and not all need the same level of nutrition when the rest of their diet is taken into account. For example, vegans would prefer non-dairy, all organic milk from plant sources and some might just go with the taste. So here is a list that pregnant woman can choose from based on their preferences:
- Cow milk
Cow milk is the most popular and abundantly available type of milk. It comes in raw, skimmed, whole and flavoured types.
Nutritional Facts: Cow’s milk is rich in calcium, and vitamins A, D and E. The proteins and amino acids present in the milk are essential for cell building in both the mother and foetus. Vitamin D is critical for calcium absorption and protects against gestational diabetes. Vitamin A strengthens the immune system and helps in good vision. Vitamin E has antioxidant properties and protects against diseases. A glass of milk gives 285 mg of calcium.
- Goat Milk
Goat milk though not very popular is highly nutritious. It may taste a bit odd to some people but is worth it if you’re looking for more quality and less quantity. It is available as fresh milk, UHT (Ultra High Temperature processed) milk that is heated above 135 degrees Celsius to get rid of spores, and organic varieties.
Nutritional Facts: It is higher in protein, vitamin B2 and butterfat globules compared to cow’s milk. The healthy dietary fats in goat milk help lowering cholesterol, speed up the metabolic process, and aid in digestion. The vitamin A content in the milk is readily absorbed by the body. A glass of goat milk contains 283 mg of calcium.
- Soya Milk
Grounding soybeans soaked in water makes soya milk. It contains the same level of proteins as cow’s milk and is available in flavoured, fibre, and calcium-enriched varieties.
Nutritional Facts: It provides ample amounts of calcium essential for the mother and the baby. It also offers healthy fats that are good for the heart while being cholesterol-free. Soya milk is also rich in antioxidants that fight cancer and boost immunity. One glass of soya milk provides 300 mg of calcium.
- Almond Milk
Also known as badam milk, it is made from ground almonds and water. It is an excellent alternative to those who are allergic to gluten and soy.
Nutritional Facts: Almond milk is rich in folic acid, vitamin B, vitamin E, calcium, iron, protein and fibre. It is low in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol. A glass of unfortified almond milk gives 7.5 mg of calcium.
- Oat Milk
Nutritional Facts: Oat milk is high in vitamins A and B and minerals such as potassium, phosphorous and manganese. It contains more proteins than almond milk and rice milk (made with ground rice and water) but not as much as cow milk. It has a fairly good amount of calcium at 120 mg per glass.
- Saffron Milk
Also known as kesar milk, it is prepared by adding one or two strands of saffron to a glass of milk.
- Milk Powder
Instant formula in the form of pregnancy milk powder is made from natural pasteurised milk. It has the same nutritional content as cow’s milk.
How to Drink Milk during Pregnancy?
When consumed in the wrong way, milk can cause some trouble during pregnancy.
Here are some good ways to drink milk in pregnancy:
- Milk is absorbed well when thinned with water in a ratio of 2 to 1. Try taking it with tea or a light milkshake.
- Drink warm milk in small sips; don’t rush.
- Don’t drink milk after a meal.
- Keep the minimum at 3 cups a day at different times.
Precautions and Tips
While drinking milk is beneficial in pregnancy, there are few things one must remember while consuming milk.
1.What to Eat or Drink:
Consume dairy foods such as yoghurt as a form of an afternoon snack. Have milk with a bowl of cereal for a fuller breakfast. Low-fat cheese is a great spread on sandwiches and with salads.
2.What To Avoid:
Avoid unpasteurized milk and dairy products made out of it.
How Much Milk to Drink During Pregnancy?
Like with everything, moderation is the key. Drinking too much milk during pregnancy can lead to bloating and indigestion. Milk intake during pregnancy of 3 cups per day is good enough to give you all the necessary nutrients no matter what your weight, level of physical activity or stage of pregnancy is. Also, if you’re drinking anything other than cow’s milk, count the nutrient levels and vary the amount accordingly.
1. Does drinking milk during pregnancy make baby fair?
This is a myth. Drinking milk or saffron milk doesn’t affect the complexion of a baby. The complexion depends entirely on the genes inherited from the parents.
2. Does drinking milk in pregnancy make baby tall?
It is likely that drinking milk in pregnancy makes some children grow taller at a faster rate in their childhood. One research indicated that this could be true with women who drink at least 150 ml of milk a day. Drinking milk in the third trimester of pregnancy can be highly beneficial on this front as the baby’s growth rate is high at this time.
3. Effects of not drinking milk
According to a Canadian Medical Association Journal research, pregnant mothers who consumed less than one cup of milk a day during pregnancy delivered smaller babies as compared to those who consumed more than one cup. The observation was that the birth weight of the baby went up by 41grams for every cup of milk consumed by the mothers. Mothers who are calcium-deficient due to low consumption of milk experience a loss of bone mass during pregnancy as the foetus absorbs calcium from the mother for development.
4. Can I drink milk at night while pregnant?
Do not drink milk immediately after a meal. You can drink warm milk with honey before going to sleep for a better quality of sleep and to maintain optimum blood sugar levels in the night.
Conclusion: Whatever may be the type of milk you decide to consume, get the right amount so you can provide all the essential nutrients your baby needs for healthy development.