Health and Nutrition Information for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women

Health Needs - Medical Conditions, Allergies, and Food Intolerances

Medical conditions and allergies:

Some women have specific health needs while they are pregnant or breastfeeding, because of a medical condition. These conditions include diabetes, celiac disease, renal disease, and phenylketonuria (PKU).  If you have a medical condition, ask your doctor or health care provider for advice about food choices while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Other women may have specific needs because of a food allergy, such as egg, nut, or wheat allergy. If you have a food allergy, ask your doctor for advice about food choices while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.  

In addition, if you have any allergies, or your family has a history of allergies, ask your doctor about avoiding common food allergens, such as peanuts, while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you are breastfeeding and your baby has a medical condition or a food allergy, visit your doctor and follow his or her advice about your food choices. 

Lactose intolerance:

If you avoid milk because you are lactose intolerant, the most reliable way to get the health benefits of milk is to select lactose-free milk and milk products or calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage).

pregnant woman with doctor You can also take a lactase pill or drops that help you digest lactose before eating or drinking milk products. Also, check with your doctor for his or her advice if you have trouble digesting milk products.

In addition, many people who have a problem digesting lactose can usually eat or drink:

  • Smaller portions (up to ½ cup) of milk with a meal
  • Yogurt or hard cheeses
  • Milk on hot or cold cereal

Remember to choose low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, and cheeses.

If you do not drink or eat any foods in the Dairy Group, be sure to get the calcium you need from other foods.  These include:

  • Calcium-fortified juices and other beverages, cereals, or breads
  • Tofu (prepared with calcium sulfate)
  • Canned fish with bones you eat (such as sardines or salmon canned with bones)
  • Soybeans, black eyed peas (cow peas), and white beans
  • Some leafy greens (collard and turnip greens, kale, bok choy)

The amount of calcium that can be absorbed from these foods varies.  Check with your doctor to be sure you are getting enough calcium from your foods and beverages.