Living with Lactose Intolerance During Pregnancy

When it comes to our health and wellness, we’re all searching for answers.

Sometimes that can be a complicated process as misinformation is everywhere. That’s where we want to help. Stay tuned over the next few weeks to read our “Lactose Intolerance Answers” series on Dairy Good.

The other day, Dr. Robert Murray, who has practiced clinical Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition for more than 20 years, helped us understand lactose intolerance and genetics. Today he answers a question related to living with lactose intolerance while pregnant:

What if I’m pregnant and lactose intolerant?

Dr. Robert Murray: No matter which stage of life you may be in, dairy foods play an important role in the quality of our diet pattern.

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, dairy serves many critical health needs. It offers a nutrient-rich foundation for a mother’s body that protects her own health during pregnancy. It also provides important fluids to help adjust to a woman’s changing cardiovascular needs during pregnancy. Dairy delivers protein and many other nutrients, including calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D, that the fetus needs as it builds its tissues and bones. And dairy replenishes the many nutrients that are passed to the baby in breast milk, protecting the mother’s body, as well. So, whenever possible, it is recommended that dairy be a significant part of the pregnancy diet plan.

If you think you’re lactose intolerant, you should first determine whether your symptoms really are from lactose intolerance, rather than a milk allergy or another sensitivity. You can find out for sure by visiting your doctor, who can then help determine next steps.

If you and your doctor determine that you do have lactose intolerance symptoms (gassiness, bloating, cramping or loose stool), there are several things you can do to maintain a good dairy intake for you and your baby:

1) Try lactose-free milk or lactase enzyme drops from the drug-store, an inexpensive way to digest the lactose in milk.

2) Try slowly adding dairy products to your diet, including eating dairy foods that are already naturally low in lactose (such as hard cheese) and consuming them along with other foods in meals and snacks.