Pregnant And Lactose Intolerant

lactose-intolerantMilk, it does a body good…. Unless of course you’re lactose intolerant and trying to design a healthy pregnancy diet, and in that case, dairy products have waged a war against your body. One of the first thoughts that crossed my mind when I found out I was pregnant was how do I create a healthy pregnancy diet, rich in calcium and other nutrients, if I’m lactose intolerant and can’t drink milk? Yes, at the time my entire definition of calcium was milk.

I’ve been lactose intolerant since I was about 15. At the time, I found this condition devastating as it severely limited my ability to eat bowls and bowls of cereal and ice cream, both staple items in most teenagers’ diets. However, I made due, and now I rarely think about. I just never drink milk, and I don’t eat very much ice cream. Never one to be much of a health conscious eater, I figured I’d deal with issues like osteoporosis later, when I was old… Then I got pregnant and all that changed.

It’s well documented that calcium is an essential component of a healthy pregnancy diet. Calcium is critical for a developing baby’s bones as well as keeping a mother’s bones strong during pregnancy. Additionally, calcium has been proven to aid in baby’s heart, muscle and nerve development Furthermore, if a baby isn’t getting enough calcium during pregnancy, it will begin taking calcium from its mother’s daily allotment. With horrifying visions of having my body snapping in half because my baby had taken the majority of my calcium, I decided my first course of action was to speak to my doctor about my lactose intolerance, my options, and what other healthy food to eat during pregnancy to supplement my daily calcium intake.

Much to my surprise, my doctor was cautious to immediately put me on a calcium supplement. She said it certainly wasn’t necessary during the first trimester but perhaps we would revisit that option during the third trimester if need be. Instead, she recommended more natural, healthy alternatives to straight supplements. She gave me a pamphlet on lactose intolerance and pregnancy, which included lists of healthy food to eat during pregnancy to help supplement my calcium intake. Included were nondairy items such as broccoli, tofu, and almonds. Also recommended were calcium fortified juices, such as orange juice, and calcium enriched grains such as English muffins and rice. My doctor and I also discussed the Lactaid pills I was taking that allowed me to indulge in the occasional glass of milk or bowl of ice cream. My doctor said those pills was perfectly fine and I could continue to take those throughout my pregnancy. She also said that in due time I would discover the miracle of TUMS for heartburn relief and that those were packed with calcium as well.

The results? My bones never snapped in half during my pregnancy and both my children were born healthy. While the increased calcium probably wasn’t a huge contributing factor to my healthy pregnancy, it certainly didn’t hurt. With minor adjustments to my diet, I was able to up my calcium intake not just during my pregnancy but afterwards as well. As my doctor recently informed me, 35 years old is definitely a good age for women to get serious about bone health, especially lactose intolerant women who may be skimping on calcium already.

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About This Blogger

Jen Gehring

When she’s not managing political campaigns or teaching law classes, Jen Gehring enjoys spending time with her family, including her two young children. A fashionista and recovering-perfectionist, this busy working mom uses her precious seconds of free time to run, sip wine, and escape into reality television. She’s been a freelance writer for the last five years.