It’s critical to eat well and provide your body with the right nutrition throughout your pregnancy. Some healthy choices include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, non-fat or low-fat dairy products. However, it’s a tough task when you’re trying to avoid dairy milk because of lactose intolerant or milk allergies. Because not just easily available, cow’s milk is one of the healthiest milk kinds experts recommend for pregnant women.
Therefore, the majority of women find themselves at a crossroads when it comes to choosing milk alternatives during pregnancy. The good news is alternative milk can also be a good resort to meet the nutritional needs of you and your developing baby.
If you’re wondering whether it is the right decision to try milk alternatives during pregnancy or which type is best, you have come to the right place. We’ve rounded up all the questions you might have and the best possible answers to ease the cloud of confusion in your head.
Milk for Pregnancy
Why should pregnant women need to drink milk? Milk is not only safe but also one of the must-haves for your diet during pregnancy. Packed with calcium, protein, and phosphorus, milk offers essential nutrients for pregnant women. In addition, drinking a cup of warm milk before sleep can work as a pregnancy-safe sleep aid.
Here are some key benefits of consuming milk during pregnancy:
Calcium: Milk is rich in calcium. Aside from being crucial for maintaining the mother’s bone health, calcium is influential in the development of the baby’s bones and teeth.
Protein: Milk is a source of high-quality protein, which plays a key role in the growth and development of both the baby and the mother.
Vitamins A and D: Many processed milk and milk alternatives are often fortified with Vitamins A and D. They aid in the absorption of calcium and support the development of the baby’s bones and immune system.
Vitamin B12: This vitamin is important for the formation of healthy red blood cells and supporting brain development. Also, adequate vitamin B12 intake during pregnancy is crucial for the baby’s spinal cord development.
Iodine: Iodine deficiency is prevalent among pregnant women. Iodine deficiency in expecting moms can lead to children’s developmental delay and mental retardation. Some types of milk, especially iodized milk, are a good source of iodine, which is essential for the baby’s brain development.
DHA and Choline: Some pregnancy milk and milk alternatives are often fortified with DHA and choline. They aid in proper fetal development.
Fluid Intake: Staying well-hydrated during pregnancy can have multifold benefits: alleviating constipation, softening skin, boosting energy, and more. Milk can contribute to your daily fluid intake.
Weight Management: Worried about excessive weight gain during pregnancy? You can turn to low-fat or skim milk options for getting some essential nutrients.
Which milk is good for pregnancy?
Skim or low-fat varieties, in particular, are good for pregnant women because of their limited amount of saturated fat. They usually contain the same amount of essential nutrients as whole milk types. For adequate calcium intake, you can try some calcium supplements and calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, cheese, and almonds.
Experts believe these are the best milk options for pregnancy:
Regular Cow’s Milk: An excellent source of calcium, protein, vitamin D, and other essential nutrients, there is no alternative to regular cow’s milk. If you’re lactose intolerant, you can choose lactose-free versions, which contain all the essential nutrients found in regular cow’s milk without the lactose.
Fortified Cow’s Milk: Some cow’s milk is fortified with additional nutrients, such as vitamin D, DHA, and choline can provide extra benefits during pregnancy.
Organic Cow’s Milk: Organic milk is deemed better for pregnant women than conventional milk as they have slightly higher levels of certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids.
What type of milk is best to avoid while pregnant?
You should reduce whole milk intake during pregnancy. The saturated fat in whole milk might not be a healthy option for you and your growing baby. For fat intake, you should rely on natural sources of fat such as fish, olive oil, canola oil, nuts, and nut butter.
Also, pregnant women should stay away from unpasteurized, raw milk as raw milk can contain disease-causing microbes. Experts also advise avoiding foods made with unpasteurized, raw milk while pregnant.
What are some best milk alternatives during pregnancy?
Other than cows, there are different sources of milk. Plant-based milk alternatives are becoming popular among pregnant women. That is because these milk alternatives contain unsaturated fat, and they are naturally lactose-free. Though not popular as plant-based alternatives, goat milk offers more nutritional value than cow’s milk.
Below are some best plant-based milk alternatives for pregnant women:
Almond Milk: Not just safe, almond milk is also a healthy plant-based alternative for pregnant women. They often contain higher calcium and vitamin D content but are lower in protein compared to cow’s milk. Be sure to choose a brand that’s fortified for the best nutritional value.
Soy Milk: If you aren’t allergic to soy milk, it can be another good plant-based milk option during pregnancy. Rich in vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, and calcium, many experts say that soy milk is the closest equivalent to cow’s milk in terms of nutritional value. We recommend looking for unsweetened and fortified versions.
Other Fortified Plant-Based Milk: Some other good plant-based milk options are oat milk, rice milk, and coconut milk. They all come with added essential nutrients.
If you are intolerant to lactose, milk alternatives like almond and soy milk can be great substitutes during pregnancy. If you are trying milk alternatives for the first time during pregnancy, please consult with a nutritionist or your doctor.
Our registered dietitians have evaluated dozens of milk and milk alternatives on the market. Below are some of the milk and milk alternatives for pregnancy in terms of nutritional value and taste.
Milk & Milk Alternatives for Pregnancy
Our Top 3 Picks
Silk Almond Milk
Califia Farms Oat Milk
KOS Organic Coconut Milk Powder
Best Almond Milk for Pregnancy: Silk Almond Milk
Is almond milk good for pregnancy? Rich in vitamin A and calcium, almond milk can be a good substitute for dairy milk during pregnancy. Free from dairy, lactose, and casein, Silk has probably the best almond milk for pregnant women on the market.
First of all, this ready-to-drink almond milk has a smooth, thick texture like real milk. Though it contains lower protein content than cow’s milk, it is rich in calcium, vitamin E, and vitamin D. To ramp up your protein intake; you can try it with a pregnancy-safe protein shake.
You can indulge yourself in the natural unsweetened vanilla flavor that is unsweetened yet tastes great. This delicious goodness offers 30 calories per serving to keep you energized for quite some time. Also, know there isn’t any cholesterol or saturated fat per serving.
Thanks to the soy-, dairy- and gluten-free formula, you are less likely to have allergic reactions. As the milk has a longer shelf life, it can be your best bet during pregnancy and beyond.
- Easy to prepare
- Unsweetened yet tastes great
- No artificial color or additives
- Higher calcium consent than regular milk
- A safe alternative to other dairy and soy products
- Not as nutritious as real milk
Best Oat Milk for Pregnancy: Califia Farms Oat Milk
Oat milk, a good source of vitamins and minerals, is another dairy milk alternative for pregnant women. Unlike almond milk, oat milk has a rich, smooth taste without any weird aftertaste. Plus, the creamy texture of oat milk is great for pairing with your favorite coffee or shakes.
Califia Farms has a popular milk line trusted by many expecting mothers. Made out of whole-roll oats, Califia Farms Oat Milk is purely plant-based. So be assured that it has no nuts, dairy, gluten, soy, or GMO products.
Consisting of an unsweetened blend of oat milk, sunflower oil, and sea salt, this popular oat milk barista blend comes in a package of six to last for several days. One main advantage is that it has a longer shelf life than many milk products. Therefore, you’ll not have trouble with storage.
Additionally, you’ll be happy to know that this oat milk doesn’t contain stabilizers as well as gums.
- Tastes great
- No weird aftertaste
- Free of most allergens, gluten, or nut
- Doesn’t contain artificial milk additives
- A little pricier
Best Coconut Milk for Pregnancy: KOS Organic Coconut Milk Powder
Pregnant or not, coconut milk is safe yet beneficial in many ways. As coconut is rich in iron and vitamin D, coconut milk can be a healthy substitute for dairy-based creamers.
There are numerous cravings during pregnancy. Whether you are looking to add a little coconutty flavor to your morning smoothies or use something sugar-free as a coffee creamer, look no further than this KOS Organic Coconut Milk Powder. No fillers, sweeteners, or artificial additives; this organic coconut milk powder has only one ingredient: organic coconut milk.
Since pregnant women require more iron nutrients for the growing baby and placenta, the high iron content in this organic coconut milk can help minimize the chance of iron deficiency.
With no dairy, gluten, or soy, this plant-based milk product will not cause any allergies. So you can have peace of mind when you want to add a fun creamy touch to your favorite coffee or tea during pregnancy.
- All plant-based formula
- Easy to dissolve in water
- Doesn’t contain fillers, gluten, soy, or additives
- A good source of iron content for pregnant women
- A sweet but strong nutty flavor
Milk & Milk Alternatives for Pregnancy
Rated Highly by Parents and Experts
Silk Shelf-Stable Soy Milk
Though the consumption of soy milk has decreased in recent times, it is still one of the closest alternatives for cow’s milk. That’s because it contains the highest amount of protein per serving compared to other milk alternatives. So it’s hard to ignore the nutritional value of soy milk for pregnant women.
We like the flavor and texture of Silk Soy Milk. This one is premium quality soy milk derived from whole-harvested soybeans. Silk claims that it is a powerhouse of nutritional goodness since it contains soy protein, calcium, and a vitamin-mineral blend, which are essential for a healthy pregnancy.
Even better, Silk Soy Milk is free of dairy, casein, gluten, peanut, artificial colors, and flavors. Not economical, but its 6-pack box is surely a good deal for the price.
- Dairy and gluten-free
- Fully plant-based formula
- Compact and nice packaging
- Rich in nutrients and minerals
- Doesn’t artificial colors or flavors
- Not so affordable
Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate Flavor Hot Cocoa Mix
You are craving chocolate like crazy. Then you remember that you are pregnant and should avoid excessive caffeine and fat intake. You aren’t alone.
It is a common struggle for many pregnant women. But the good news is you can try the healthier alternatives of chocolate like chocolate milk. Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Mix has been the go-to milk powder for most hot chocolate lovers. The rich, creamy blend of premium cocoa and nonfat milk tastes delicious and offers 160 calories per serving. Note that the amount of caffeine and fat content present in most chocolate milk is pretty negligible.
You can enjoy peace of mind knowing that it is free from gluten, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives.
- Reasonably priced
- A rich, creamy flavor
- Made with premium quality ingredients
- Not dairy-free
Judee’s Whole Milk Powder
If you are fine with the extra calories and saturated fat of 2 percent or whole milk, note that whole milk can offer some benefits during pregnancy. Not a regular milk substitute, but you can use whole milk to add some extra vitamins and minerals to your diet.
Judee’s milk powder is expensive yet a healthy choice for pregnant women. That’s because its allergy-friendly formula is free from hormones, gluten, and nut. Plus, it contains only one ingredient: whole milk powder.
You’ll be happy to note that the milk powder tastes excellent. Hence, you can use it for different purposes, which include making yogurt, sauces or bread, and more. However, you should limit the consumption of whole milk if you are already taking a good amount of saturated fat in your diet.
- Versatile milk powder
- Made from healthy ingredients
- Rich in nutrients for the growth and development of your baby
- Higher saturated fat content
Milkadamia Milk comes in six (32) ounces containers to last several months. It contains unsweetened sugar and a highlight of vanilla. The milk is purely plant-based and is thus a good option if you are a vegan.
Made from macadamia nuts, Milkadamia Milk is a healthy choice for pregnancy since its dairy, soy, gluten, and carrageenan-free. Also, it’s purely natural and doesn’t contain any GMO products.
It’s easy to prepare, and you can have a delicious serving in no time. Versatile, you can mix it with coffee to prepare a sweet and thick creamy coffee. Also, you can use it for making smoothies and baking straight from the package.
- Extended shelf life
- Sweet and delicious taste
- Made from natural products
- Rich in nutrients, minerals, and calories
- An expensive option
Recommended Milk & Milk Alternatives for Pregnancy
Orgain Plant-Based Protein Almond Milk
Orgain is well-known for its good, clean protein powders. This high-quality and organic almond milk from Orgain is no different.
The first thing to note about this product is the beautifully labeled package that leaves a good first impression. Then, this one has a much higher protein content than regular almond milk. However, you mightn’t be a fan of its unsweetened vanilla flavor and thicker consistency.
The main ingredient for this milk powder is organic almond milk. Moreover, it’s vegan, dairy, lactose, and gluten-free, and you can mix it with tea, coffee, chocolate, and more. Although the price is a little on the high side, this almond milk is perfect for adding a luxurious delight to your favorite smoothie recipe during pregnancy.
- Beautiful packaging
- High protein content yet low in sugar
- Enriched with Vitamin D and calcium
- No fillers, dairy, soy, gluten, and other allergens
- Not so great flavor and consistency as claimed
Milkman Low-fat Milk
Did you know that non-fat or low-fat milk is a healthier choice for pregnant women? And here is an excellent low-fat milk formula for pregnant women from Milkman.
At first, this milk powder tastes like real milk. It’s creamy and delicious that’s because it is enriched with real cream and tastes. Apart from their original creamy low-fat milk flavor, Milkman also has a rich, nutritious chocolate-flavored version of this milk. With 2-year shelf life, you’ll have more reasons to shop for this product.
The majority of pregnant women are picky when it comes to choosing dairy products. Luckily, this product scores strong points since it has no strong aftertaste, making it an excellent whole milk alternative during pregnancy.
- Good shelf life
- No strong aftertaste
- Sweat flavor or taste
- Enriched with many nutrients
- A little pricey compared to local brands
Oatsome Organic Oat Milk
Here is another organic oat milk from Oatsome. Free from gluten, dairy, lactose, and soy, Oatsome offers reassurance on the safety of pregnant women.
Formulated with organic oats, Oatsome’s nutrient-rich formula also contains riboflavin, vitamin D, and a few other vitamins and minerals. As a plant-based milk alternative, you shouldn’t worry about any stomach issues. Since oat milk is low in protein, make sure to add a protein supplement to your pregnancy diet.
The product has a better texture and taste than many other milk alternatives. So you can try it with cereal, coffee, smoothies, and even alone.
- Easy to store
- Great taste and texture
- Made with the highest highly organic ingredients
- A good source of vitamins and minerals for expecting moms
- Extra protein supplements might be needed
As mentioned earlier, a pregnant woman requires the right nutrients for herself and her unborn child. Be it dairy milk or other milk alternatives, make sure you are getting enough protein, calcium, and certain vitamins and minerals from different sources.
Know that plant-based milk alternatives aren’t the exact substitutes for regular dairy milk. Hence you might have to take supplements along with a milk alternative. If you are struggling to find a suitable milk alternative during pregnancy, we recommend that you talk to a licensed dietitian.