Photo source: FirstCry Parenting
According to Fetal medicine specialist Dr. Patrick Chia, maternal milk is not a necessity for pregnant mothers as the best way to meet their daily required nutrient intake is to consume a balance diet. He also emphasize the only supplement necessary for all pregnant mums in Malaysia is folic acid, and depending on your general health and well-being, your gynecologist may also prescribe you pregnancy multivitamins or iron supplement if you are anemic.
What Are the Choices?
Photo source: Healthline
However, this doesn’t mean pregnant mothers should avoid drinking milk. In fact, milk is a nutritious food rich in calcium, protein and vitamin D which is important for mothers. For the purpose of determining the best milk for mothers, we’ll break down the wide selection of milk available in the market to 3 categories;
- Maternal milk
- Non-dairy milk
- Dairy milk
Photo source: Wikipedia
Maternal milk is the most common choice for mothers to take as it is a formulated milk specifically enriched to meet the daily required nutrients intake of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. To and extend, this is the best choice of milk for mothers as it contains crucial nutrients like folic acid, iron for your baby.
However, there is a downside for drinking maternal milk. Most maternal milk contains high sugar level which may increase the risk of getting gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar levels become high during pregnancy and it affects up to 10% of women during pregnancy. While gestational diabetes is manageable with regular exercise and careful diet planning, women with family history prone to diabetes may have a tougher time managing their blood sugar level.
Photo source: Everyday Health
Non-dairy milk refers to milk that is derived from plant sources such as soy milk, oat milk, rice milk, coconut milk, almond milk and more. The major advantage that plant-based milk have over dairy milk is that it contains less saturated fats which means that it naturally packs less calories as compare to its animal-based alternative. This can be beneficial for mothers who are looking to watch their weight during pregnancy. Additionally, plant-based milk is also cholesterol free and suitable for vegetarian.
However, plant-based milk are also known to contain less nutrition as compare to dairy milk. For instance, soy milk, the most commercially available non-dairy milk contains lesser calcium than dairy milk. Calcium is one of the most important minerals for pregnant mothers as it contributes to bone formation of your baby. Lack of consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding increases the risk of health conditions such as osteoporosis and osteopenia. Another reason mothers should take note is that the taste of plant-based milk can also be quite distinct to dairy milk like cow milk.
Photo source: The statesman
Arguably the most common choice of milk we consume, most mothers would often opt to drink cow milk as it is the most widely available milk by a margin and its also relatively cost-friendly. However, it must be emphasized that drinking cow milk is not without its disadvantage.
Many cow milk available these days are not truly come from cow like we think but from a certain substitute to cow milk call reconstituted or recombined milk solids. Recombined and reconstituted milk and milk products are made from preserved dairy ingredients which are processed in such a way as to resemble products made from fresh milk supplies. That is not to say that reconstituted milk is always bad, in fact some milk products in the market requires reconstituted milk to be added such as children formula milk. However, finding genuine fresh cow milk may be difficult for mothers if they do not know what to look for.
Mothers can also consider drinking goat milk as well. Goat milk is good for mothers as it contains higher calcium and vitamin D compare to other animal milk. Goat milk also contains natural milk fat that is smaller than cow milk by 1/3 of its size, hence it is easier to be digested and absorbed by our body.
Which milk is best for mothers?
Photo source: Medical Xpress
Ultimately, the best choice of milk really depends from person to person. If your work schedule dictates you from cooking and planning a balanced meal, perhaps maternal formula milk is more suitable for you. For mothers who only drink milk as an added supplement, dairy milk such as goat milk may be better thanks to its high nutrition content.