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Dairy Council

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Nutrient-rich milk and dairy foods can make a valuable contribution to a balanced diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding, including helping to provide important nutrients such as calcium, protein and iodine.

  • Although calcium needs do not increase in pregnancy (they remain at 700mg/day), it is important to get enough calcium as it is needed for the growth and development of the baby’s bones

  • A glass of milk (200ml), a pot of yogurt (150g) and a small piece of hard cheese (30g) such as Cheddar would supply just under 700mg of calcium

  • During breastfeeding, calcium requirements do increase by 500mg / day. This is because calcium will be added to the breast milk

  • Iodine is also an important nutrient during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and the recommendation for iodine increases to 200 micrograms/day (according to the European Food Safety Authority). Milk is a good source of iodine and a 200ml glass provides around a third of this amount

Which dairy foods in pregnancy?

  • Most milk and dairy foods are fine to eat in pregnancy and can be a good way of helping to meet nutrient needs including for calcium, protein and iodine

  • Choose pasteurised milk, and cheese, yogurt, cream and ice cream made with pasteurised milk

  • Certain cheeses should be avoided unless thoroughly cooked until steaming hot. These are mould–ripened soft cheeses (e.g. Brie, Camembert) and soft cheeses with blue veins (e.g. Danish Blue, Gorgonzola and Roquefort). This is because there's a small chance that unpasteurised or soft ripened dairy products may contain Listeria bacteria, which can cause an infection called listeriosis

  • There is no risk from hard cheeses (e.g. Cheddar), pasteurised semi-hard cheeses (e.g. Edam and Stilton) and pasteurised soft cheeses, such as cottage cheese, mozzarella, feta, cream cheese or processed cheese  

More information on eating during pregnancy from NI Direct