During pregnancy, the nutrient requirement of women increases tremendously. Therefore, it is important to focus on nutrient-rich foods that provide the right nutrients for the mother and growing fetus. Milk is one of such foods, widely acclaimed and accepted as a superfood as well. It is important to understand the benefits of drinking milk during pregnancy and when and how to drink it.
The benefits you reap from milk depend on the type of milk you drink. This article will help you to understand everything about drinking milk during pregnancy. First, let us evaluate the benefits of drinking milk during pregnancy.
7 Benefits Of Drinking Milk During Pregnancy
As long as you have no preference or aversion that hinders you from drinking it (such as lactose intolerance), having a glass of milk per day is completely safe and even recommended.
Milk has an amazing nutritional profile. Milk is a good source of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, potassium, and zinc.
Milk provides you with several benefits, including high nutritional benefits, and helps in the development and health of both mother and unborn child. It is loaded with water-soluble vitamins like Vitamin B1, B2, and B12, and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Let us take a closer look at 7 of the best and important benefits of drinking milk during pregnancy.
1. Milk is rich in calcium
It is very important to increase calcium intake during pregnancy. Calcium is an important mineral essential for the healthy development of the fetus and maintaining the bone density of the mother.
Optimum calcium intake is important for the development of bones, teeth, heart, muscles, and nerves of the baby. In case of insufficient calcium circulating in the mother’s blood, the fetus will start to leach calcium from the calcium deposits (bone) of the mother.
This makes the mother more at risk of issues like osteoporosis in the future. It can also bring about dental issues during pregnancy.
According to studies, expecting women require an additional 1000 mg of calcium each day as pregnancy progresses and the fetus starts to grow and develop the major parts of its body (like bones and teeth). Intake of calcium supplement is counted as a cheap way of reducing the risk of preeclampsia as well.
One of the important benefits of drinking fresh milk during pregnancy is it significantly contributes to calcium intake. One cup of milk provides around 275 milligrams of calcium. This accounts for more than 25 percent of your daily requirement.
2. Drink milk during pregnancy for Vitamin D
Milk and dairy products are a good source of Vitamin D as well. This vitamin is very important for the healthy bone development of the fetus and bone and dental health of the mother. This is because this vitamin goes hand in hand with calcium. Vitamin D is essential for the body to absorb calcium from the food one eats.
So, Vitamin D helps to develop your bones’ strength and is essential for bone health. It is also very important for your immune system, thereby keeping you and your baby safe from infections. Vitamin D is also useful for healthy birth weight.
It is said that a pregnant woman requires about 600IU of vitamin D each day. Milk is one of the best and one of the only foods that can provide high enough amounts of this nutrient. One cup of whole milk is a source of roughly 125IU of vitamin D.
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3. Provides protein
Protein is essential for fetal development as it is the fundamental building block when it comes to the formation of new cells and tissues. As the major fetal growth spurt happens during the second and third trimesters, the requirement of proteins heightens during this period.
Insufficient protein intake during these later stages of pregnancy can negatively affect the growth of the fetus and bring about low birth weight. Severe protein insufficiency can increase the risk of neonatal death.
According to studies, the optimal quantity of protein supposed to take during pregnancy is 1.1 grams per kilogram of maternal weight.
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It is estimated that one cup of whole milk provides around 8 grams of protein. Moreover, milk protein is easily digestible and has better absorbance. Therefore the body can make use of each and every protein molecule in milk.
When it comes to protein intake, not only the quantity but also the quality matters. Milk proteins are categorized as complete proteins. This means milk carries all of the essential amino acids that are required for body functions and cell formations.
4. Helps to combat heartburn
Heartburn is a common issue of expecting mothers. Milk, with its acid-neutralizing effect, works as an excellent antacid. Drinking milk, thus, helps to relieve heartburn and other gastric issues during pregnancy.
This antacid property of milk is due to its high calcium and protein content. Chewing calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is found very effective in combating acidity. It is the calcium released from chewed antacids that fight acidity. Calcium helps to increase the muscle tone of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
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It is the lower esophageal sphincter that prevents the stomach’s contents from coming back up. During pregnancy, the pregnancy hormones along with the other muscles weaken the LES as well. This allows the stomach content to enter the esophagus causing acidity.
Calcium helps to increase the LES muscle tone and thereby helps to prevent acid reflux. Similarly, it is found that optimal protein intake helps to reduce the instances of heartburn. This is mainly because proteins stimulate the production of hormone gastrin that promotes digestion, and therefore, there will be less food in the stomach to reflux.
5. Enhances brain development and nervous system
Brain development is an important and critical pregnancy milestone. Milk is one of the major iodine sources. Iodine is one of the essential elements for optimal fetal brain development. The recommended intake of iodine during pregnancy is 250 mcg.
One glass of milk carries around 85 mcg of iodine. Therefore, intake of milk during pregnancy helps to improve the brain development of the baby.
We know that milk is rich in proteins. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. These amino acids are very important for the formation of the nerve cells and nervous system of the fetus. The amino acids and fatty acids in milk help in the development of the baby’s nervous system.
Besides, its high iodine content helps to increase the IQ of the fetus in the long run.
6. Enhances overall growth of the fetus
Drinking milk during pregnancy promotes the overall growth of the fetus. If the mother drinks milk during pregnancy, her baby tends to grow tall. It is also found that the risk of type 2 diabetes falls considerably low in babies whose mothers drink an adequate amount of milk during pregnancy.
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How Much Milk Should A Pregnant Woman Drink A Day?
According to research, two to three glasses of low-fat milk (or three servings of dairy) is the best choice during pregnancy. This quantity is enough to provide all the necessary nutrients during this phase. You can start drinking milk from the early stage of pregnancy. Drinking milk in pregnancy first trimester is highly beneficial.
However, please abstain from drinking too much milk during pregnancy. If the milk consumption crosses the moderation mark, it can bring about bloating and indigestion which is equally annoying during pregnancy.
Also, never drink raw of unpasturised milk- especially during pregnancy.
What is the best time to drink milk during pregnancy?
Milk contains melatonin and amino acids that can potentially induce sleep. However, these components of the milk will be activated when you heat the milk. Therefore, you can have a glass of warm milk before going to bed.
You can even add a spoon of honey to enhance the result. Likewise, you can also drink a glass of milk along with evening snacks and breakfast. However, make sure you won’t drink milk immediately before or after heavy lunch or dinner.
Also, it is not wise to drink milk on an empty stomach during pregnancy. Mornings, as soon as you wake up, all your body systems including the digestive system will be sluggish. Drinking milk on empty stomach (first thing in the morning) can trigger acidity and other digestive issues during pregnancy.
Drinking cold milk before bed during pregnancy should also be avoided. Drinking a glass of warm milk helps to get a good sleep. On the other hand drinking, cold milk before bedtime can interrupt quality sleeping.
This is because during the night the digestive metabolism decreases. Digestion of cold milk takes a long time compared to lukewarm milk. Warm milk gets easily digested and absorbed by the body. Therefore, drinking cold milk before bedtime would increase the chance of indigestion and its annoying symptoms.
Which milk is good in pregnancy cow or buffalo?
When it comes to what kind of milk should a pregnant woman drink, we always suggest opting for one that is low in fat.
Both cow’s milk and buffalo milk are rich in nutrients. However, the calorie content of buffalo milk is almost double when compared to cow’s milk. This is because it is high in protein and fat. Therefore buffalo milk will not be as easily digestible as cow’s milk.
It is better to opt for cow’s milk during pregnancy. Even when it comes to cow’s milk you have to further opt for low-fat milk (skimmed milk) rather than the full cream milk (whole milk).
It is always wise to stay away from the excess fat version of any food during pregnancy. If you have whole milk, dilute it with water in a 2:1 ratio before consuming it.
Drinking milk during pregnancy is beneficial in many aspects. However, drinking milk during pregnancy and fair baby is nothing but a pregnancy myth. Drinking milk during pregnancy can make your baby big as it enhances growth of the baby. But, it has zero influence on the complexion of the baby. The same with saffron milk during pregnancy, or anything else that claims the same.
Now you know the top benefits of drinking milk during pregnancy, never hesitate to include it in your pregnancy diet. Happy pregnancy!