What dairy can you eat when pregnant?

Pregnant woman drinking milk

If you're craving an ice-cream or big bowl of yoghurt, but are worried that it might be bad for you or your developing baby, then put your mind at rest with the latest information about eating dairy during pregnancy.

Calcium is vital for your baby’s bone and teeth development and it also helps you both to maintain a regular heartbeat. As you probably know, milk and dairy products are the best sources of calcium, but you must make sure that they're safe for consumption during pregnancy. They key thing, as with cheese and eggs, is that the dairy you eat must be pasteurised.

What type of milk should I drink when pregnant?

Drink plenty of milk during pregnancy but make sure it is pasteurised, as unpasteurised milk could contain listeria – a dangerous bacteria which, in rare cases, can causes listeriosis and can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth and long-term health problems.

pregnant woman drinking milk

This applies not only to cow's milk but also sheep's milk and goat's milk, so make sure to check the label.

If you find yourself in a situation where only unpasteurised milk is available then the way to make it safe is to boil it first, to get rid of the bacteria.

How much milk should I drink when pregnant?

Unborn babies need massive amounts of calcium, so if you’re craving dairy that’s totally understandable. Go with it and drink as much milk as you like.

You should be drinking two to three pints of fluids per day. Milk quantities are up to you but drinking over half a litre per day will ensure you’re getting plenty of calcium.

Some researchers claim drinking milk during pregnancy will help your child to grow taller and improve her IQ. Regardless of whether or not this is true, drinking lots of pasteurised milk and getting that extra calcium is undoubtedly good for you and your baby.

Can I eat yoghurt when pregnant?

As long as the yoghurt has been made with pasteurised milk, it's fine in any form – bio, live, Greek, you name it – and another good source of calcium. It’s also packed with protein and vitamins, so now's the time to indulge your Müller Corner habit (other brands are of course available).

Yoghurt is also excellent for digestion, so a great help during pregnancy when your digestive system slows down to ensure your baby gets enough nutrition, which can sometimes result in such joys as constipation and piles.

Just one word of warning: if you’re lucky enough to have access to homemade yoghurt, make sure it’s not made with unpasteurised milk. As mentioned above, anything unpasteurised is off the menu for pregnant women.

Can I eat cream when pregnant?

Yes. Single cream, double cream and soured cream are all fine, as long as they’re – wait for it – pasteurised. To be honest, it’d be a surprise if you picked up unpasteurised cream from your local supermarket. To be on the safe side, though, check the packaging.

If you see the magic p-word, then go ahead and pour it over your strawberries, pile onto those scones, dollop on your chilli, or get stuck into whatever other creamy dish you fancy indulging in.

Can I eat ice-cream when pregnant?

ice cream from shop

Shop-bought ice-cream should be fine too (hooray!), as it's usually made with pasteurised milk and eggs, so there's no risk of contracting listeria or salmonella.

If you're getting fancy and making your own ice cream, you could use an egg substitute or an egg-free recipe in order to avoid the very low salmonella risk.

Like other dairy products, ice-cream offers a healthy dose of calcium but it does tend to also be high on sugar, so you won’t want to eat too much – but there’s nothing wrong with the occasional bowl of neopolitan, especially on a hot day.

I got my husband to bring me a Mr Whippy ice-cream to hospital as soon as I was allowed to eat again! I had been craving it since I got pregnant.

A word of warning about soft ice-creams, such as Mr Whippy, before you go ordering a 99. The NHS advises that they're safe, as they're made with pasteurised milk and eggs, but some doctors and midwives recommend you avoid soft ice-cream served from vans and kiosks. They argue that the machines in which the ice-cream is stored are insufficiently cold and could contain listeria.

The same applies to machine-made milkshakes, although Mumsnetters who gave in to McFlurry cravings reported no problems. As ever, there's no harm in being extra cautious – after all, it's only nine months.