Dealing with Lactose Intolerance in Pregnancy

Updated at: Jun 19, 2013
Dealing with Lactose Intolerance in Pregnancy

Lactose intolerance during pregnancy can limit your nutrient intake, but this can be solved with a few steps. Learn about them, here.

Bhadra Kamalasanan
PregnancyWritten by: Bhadra KamalasananPublished at: Jun 19, 2013

a glass of milk and soya beans

It can be a challenge to be presented with lactose intolerance during pregnancy when already a pregnant woman struggles with digestive problems during the course of nine months. If you are pregnant and have lactose intolerance, remember that you are not alone. According to the author of The Everything Pregnancy Nutrition Book: What to Eat to Ensure a Healthy Pregnancy, Kimberly A Tessmer , between 30 and 50 million Americans suffer from lactose intolerance.

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Lactose intolerance implies that your body cannot tolerate lactose, a type of sugar found in milk and its products.  When a person undergoes during digestion is the breakdown of lactose into easily digested sugar by an enzyme called lactase. Those who are lactose intolerant do not produce enough of the enzyme and experience symptoms like bloating, nausea, abdominal pain, cramping, gas and diarrhea. The degree of symptoms of lactose intolerance is different in different people. For instance, while some women are fine to eat a few of the milk products, others experience extremes of these symptoms.

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance

You will be able to tell whether you are lactose intolerant or not after fifteen minutes post ingestion of any type of food that contains lactose. In some women, it may take several hours to a day for the symptoms to show. No one can really estimate how a particular woman is likely to experience the symptoms because each woman different and there is a possibility that if a woman had lactose intolerance before pregnancy, her symptoms may either decrease post pregnancy or increase to a new level.

Kimberly states in her book that being lactose intolerant does not mean that one is allergic to milk or milk products. It is important for one to separate intolerance from allergy. The symptoms in the case of an allergy to milk or milk products are difficult to control and are much more severe that those that one experiences as part of lactose intolerance.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of lactose intolerance and have never been had those before you conceived, there is a possibility that the symptoms are because of the changes occurring in your body. The symptoms may be because of other causes that you can only confirm after talking to your doctor. If your doctor diagnoses that you cannot consume milk or milk products any further, he/she will prescribe the nutrients found in milk such as calcium.

During pregnancy, you must totally proscribe or decrease the consumption of milk and milk products. When one is intolerant to milk, the concern is about not receiving the essential nutrients from the main source. In the case of milk, calcium and vitamin D are the most important nutrients needed for the development of the mother’s as well as the baby’s body.

[Read: How to Relieve Breast Pain during Pregnancy]

Despite of your lactose intolerance, you can take steps to ensure that you maintain the minimum level of nutrients in your body.

• Start by taking a small amount of milk or milk product and gradually increase the portion to check your level of tolerance to the protein.
• Find out which lactose product it is that you are better likely to tolerate by taking a little of each. For instance, some part of the sugar present in yogurt is already digested by the bacteria present in it and will therefore, be easier to tolerate. Products made with active cultures will be easy to consume. To know which ones are made of the said cultures, check their respective labels.
• Before buying any edible, take a look at the ingredients as mentioned on its label and watch out for any product that indicates that the product has lactose in it. Some of these products include dry milk solids, nonfat milk solids, milk, buttermilk, malted milk, lactose, margarine, sour or sweet cream, whey, milk chocolate, whey protein and cheese.
• If you still would want to enjoy breakfast with milk and cereal, buy products that are lactose-reduced or lactose-free. If you pick lactose-free products, make sure that it contains calcium. You may look for calcium-fortified soy milk instead. Remember that some products that are baked or processed also contain some amount of lactose and to prevent from buying these is to always take a look at the label.
• To help your body to tolerate foods that contain foods, eat them along with your meal instead of having it alone. A mixture of foods can help slow the release of lactose into the digestive system, making it easier to digest. Also, instead of drinking an entire glass of milk in one sitting, have 1/4th of a cup at a meal time.
• Always follow the instructions for use as given on the package.
• Add lots of calcium-rich foods in your diet instead of milk products like dark vegetables, calcium-fortified products, cereals, almonds, soybeans, canner sardines and salmons with bones. Also, include good sources of vitamin D in diet like fortified cereals, eggs.

Read more articles on During Pregnancy.


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