Is It Safe To Drink Eggnog When Pregnant Or Breastfeeding?

Is It Safe To Drink Eggnog When Pregnant Or Breastfeeding?

Countries from around the world have traditional foods and drinks that are commonly served during the festive period.

For example, there’s German Stollen, Italian panettone and Greek baklava.

In the UK, a traditional Christmas lunch is a big turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, and all the trimmings.

Cooking seafood on a BBQ is a popular choice for a Christmas lunch here in Australia.

In Canada and the US, eggnog is a traditional drink served at Christmas time.

Eggnog is a dairy-based drink made with milk, cream, sugar, raw whipped eggs, and sometimes distilled spirits such as brandy, rum or bourbon.

Is Eggnog Safe During Pregnancy Or When Breastfeeding?

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you may wonder if it’s safe to drink eggnog, especially given the risk of consuming raw eggs.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) have estimated there to be 12,800 annual cases of salmonellosis (food poisoning due to salmonella) due to the consumption of raw eggs.

Illness due to salmonella typically lasts 4-7 days and symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and stomach cramps.

Is It Safe To Drink Eggnog While Pregnant?

In most cases of salmonellosis, people recover without antibiotic treatment. The diarrhoea can be severe though and in some cases hospitalisation is required.

Pregnant women aren’t at increased risk of salmonellosis. However if a pregnant woman was to be infected with salmonella, she has a greater risk of more severe illness which can be life-threatening.

And, in rare cases, salmonellosis in pregnancy could result in miscarriage.

Hence, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and FSANZ recommend pregnant women avoid consuming raw eggs.

In addition, Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council advise against drinking alcohol in pregnancy.

Therefore, unless eggnog is made with cooked eggs (or is pasteurised store purchased) and without alcohol, it’s safest for pregnant women to not drink it.

What about if you’re breastfeeding?

Is It Safe To Drink Eggnog While Breastfeeding?

If a breastfeeding mother gets food poisoning, the bacteria usually stays in her gut and does not get into her bloodstream or into her breastmilk. In such situations, breastfeeding poses no risk at all to your baby.

If you’re suffering food poisoning and begin to get dehydrated, your breastmilk supply may lower somewhat.

Resting, drinking fluids, and breastfeeding as often as possible will help you maintain your supply while you’re unwell.

If your supply is still low once you’re well again, breastfeeding (and/or expressing) more often can help boost in back up again. Read more tips to help increase milk supply here.

To help prevent the risk of salmonellosis, it’s advisable to only drink store purchased pasteurised eggnog or homemade eggnog with cooked eggs.

In terms of any alcohol added to eggnog, there are ways to safely consume alcohol while breastfeeding. The key is to plan ahead. You can read more about alcohol and breastfeeding here.

So, being pregnant or breastfeeding certainly don’t have to mean you can’t enjoy novelties and traditions during the festive season. The key is to be sensible, informed and plan ahead.

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Renee Kam is a mother of two daughters, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a physiotherapist, author of 'The Newborn Baby Manual' and an Australian Breastfeeding Association Counsellor. In her spare time, Renee enjoys spending time with family and friends, horse riding, running and reading.

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