While approximately 1% of the population prefers drinking raw milk because of its many health benefits, there is a one question that should be addressed: is it okay to drink raw milk during pregnancy? Proponents would argue yes; however, the consensus among doctors as well as the National Institute of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are definitive in their answer – an unequivocal no. Here are the reasons why pregnant women should not ingest raw milk.
Raw milk that is not “clean” or does not go through the pasteurization process contains harmful bacteria such as listeria, salmonella, and E. coli. It is estimated that pregnant women are more likely to develop listeriosis than healthier adults. This can be extremely harmful not only to the pregnant woman but the fetus as well.
For example, there is a domino effect which can cause a myriad of problems. According to doctors, there are hormonal changes in a pregnant woman which can affect the course of treatment. While medication may cure the illness, it may affect the unborn fetus. How? It can cause miscarriages, illness, and even death. Even if the newborn survives, the immune system in an infant is not fully developed and their illness can become even more pronounced which would require appropriate medications to treat the newborn. This is the domino effect.
While it is true that raw milk that is clean and acquired from a farmer whose practices are beyond repute can be utilized, there is always the possibility that the bacteria can cause severe illness in a pregnant woman, which in turn can affect the fetus. Although it is also true that the “good” bacterium in raw milk plays an important role in preventing diseases among children, it can have an opposite effect in women who are pregnant.
In addition, any foods that are made from raw milk, such as cheeses, can also be harmful to pregnant women. Some of the symptoms associated with drinking or eating foods derived from raw milk can include vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and body aches.
There are a number of online blogs wherein women state they have been drinking raw milk during and after pregnancy. Some even swear by its benefits. They have not developed any illness from it and their babies are born healthy. In fact, some women state that raw milk is part of their family’s diet.
While the controversy surrounding the question of drinking raw milk during pregnancy will no doubt continue, since the data suggests that pregnant women have a higher chance of developing illness, one has to conclude that pregnant women should not drink raw milk.