Cheese During Pregnancy: What’s Safe and What’s Not?

You know you shouldn’t eat raw fish, but what about cheese during pregnancy? Find out what cheese is safe to eat, plus learn what types to avoid altogether.

You know you shouldn't eat raw fish, but what about cheese during pregnancy? Find out what cheese is safe to eat, plus learn what types to avoid altogether.

Natural mamas know what they eat during pregnancy matters and pay careful attention to their pregnancy diet, avoiding unsafe seafood and abstaining from alcohol. But what about cheese during pregnancy?

If you’re confused about what is and isn’t okay, let’s cover:

  • The big deal about cheese during pregnancy
  • Why pasteurization matters
  • Safe cheese during pregnancy
  • Cheese to avoid during pregnancy

Can You Eat Cheese During Pregnancy?

Cheese is a great source of calcium, so why is there so much talk about cheese you shouldn’t eat during pregnancy?

Some cheese isn’t safe during pregnancy, because it poses a higher risk of bacteria growth, like listeria.

Listeria, a type of food poisoning, can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Most people shake it off in a few days, but young children and pregnant women are more susceptible to listeriosis, the illness caused by the bacteria listeria. According to the CDC, pregnant women are ten times more likely to be infected. If the infection enters their blood, it can pass to their baby and cause miscarriage, stillbirths, or preterm labor.

Why Pasteurization Matters

Listeria grows at cold temperatures, which is why properly heating food is so important, and pasteurization is the process of heat-treating milk to kill these potentially harmful pathogens.

The problem with pasteurization is that it can also kill good bacteria and destroy important amino acids, vitamins, and minerals in food. Still, when it comes to cheese during pregnancy, the FDA, USDA, and ACOG all recommend eating pasteurized cheese and following the guidelines below.

Pregant? Get my FREE week-by-week updates 😘 🍃 – Week by Week Promo [In-article]

Track your baby’s growth, find safe and natural remedies, and have fun along the way!

SIGN ME UP!

Cheese During Pregnancy: What’s Safe to Eat

Because some cheese is made with pasteurized milk or is cooked before being served, you don’t have to swear off cheese entirely while you’re pregnant. Here’s a look at some of the cheeses you can enjoy during pregnancy.

Hard cheese

Cheddar Cheese – Cheese During Pregnancy What’s Safe and What’s Not pregnancy post by Mama Natural

All hard cheeses, whether they’re made with pasteurized or unpasteurized milk, are generally safe to eat during pregnancy. According to the NHS, hard cheeses don’t have as much water in them as soft cheeses, making it much harder for bacteria to grow.

Hard cheeses you can eat while pregnant include:

  • Cheddar
  • Gouda
  • Gruyere
  • Parmesan
  • Provolone
  • Havarti
  • Manchego
  • Jarlsberg
  • Stilton
  • Edam
  • Emmental
  • Hard pecorino
  • Lancashire
  • Chesire

Soft, pasteurized cheese

Cream Cheese – Cheese During Pregnancy What’s Safe and What’s Not pregnancy post by Mama Natural

As long as they’re pasteurized, many soft cheeses are perfectly safe to eat during pregnancy.

Below is a list of soft cheeses typically made with pasteurized milk:

  • Cottage Cheese
  • Cream Cheese
  • Goat Cheese (without the rind)
  • Ricotta
  • Mozzarella
  • Feta
  • Paneer
  • Halloumi
  • Quark
  • Roulade
  • Prepared cheese spreads

Cheese During Pregnancy: What to Avoid

Some cheeses are strictly off-limits for pregnant women. Here’s a look at some of the cheeses you shouldn’t consume during pregnancy.

Soft, mold-ripened cheese

Blue Cheese – Cheese During Pregnancy What’s Safe and What’s Not pregnancy post by Mama Natural

This type of cheese contains a high water content, which tends to breed listeria. It’s also less acidic than hard cheese, and since acid kills bacteria, the cheese is more likely to harbor bacteria. These soft cheeses aren’t recommended, even if they’re pasteurized.

You can tell if a cheese has been mold-ripened—it will be soft to the touch and have a white or moldy looking rind.

Examples of soft, mold-ripened cheese to avoid include:

  • Brie
  • Camembert
  • Goat cheese with the rind
  • Chevre

Soft, blue-veined cheese

Blue Cheese – Cheese During Pregnancy What’s Safe and What’s Not pregnancy post by Mama Natural

This type of soft cheese isn’t recommended during pregnancy, even if its pasteurized. The “blue” in these cheeses often comes from specially-injected bacteria that promotes oxygen circulation and makes mold grow. Though this works to ripen the cheese faster, it can introduce unwanted bacteria.

This type of cheese includes:

  • Danish blue
  • Gorgonzola
  • Roquefort
  • Stichleton
  • Shropshire Blue

There are many smaller, lesser-known or widely available cheeses that fall into this category. If you see the word “blue” or “bleu” in the name, you can assume it’s not safe to eat during pregnancy.

Soft, unpasteurized cheese

Fresh Cheese – Cheese During Pregnancy What’s Safe and What’s Not pregnancy post by Mama Natural

During pregnancy, it’s best to stick with cheeses that have labels and come from factories inspected by the USDA. This rings true, whether the cheese is made from cow, goat, or sheep’s milk.

Queso fresco and queso blanco, common in the Mexican diet, are made from raw cheese and also fall into this category. In fact, hispanic women are 24 times more likely to get listeria than other women.

The Exception to the Rules About Cheese During Pregnancy

You can have soft, mold-ripened, or blue-veined cheeses if you cook the cheese thoroughly to kill any bacteria.

Try oven-baked camembert or brie. Just make sure to cook until it’s piping hot throughout, not just melted. Most bacteria that causes food poisoning cannot survive above about 165 degrees. (source)

Remember…

Don’t drive yourself crazy, and do the best you can. You could eat perfectly and still get listeria from spinach or something that has no warnings during pregnancy. Just be thoughtful about what you’re putting in your body and source your food from reputable places.

Genevieve Howland

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 85,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

6 Comments

  1. Muenster cheese? Beth

  2. Is Cooper Sharp cheese safe to eat while pregnant?

  3. I had some belgioioso Parmesan cheese. It doesn’t say if it’s used with pasteurized milk. The label says cultured milk. But it says it was aged over 10 months. So I am not sure if it’s safe??

    • All hard cheeses, whether they’re made with pasteurized or unpasteurized milk, are generally safe to eat during pregnancy. Parmesan is a hard cheese.

  4. I was wondering about Asiago cheese. It’s in a French onion soup I like at Applebee’s and I wanna know if it’s a safe cheese.

    • It’s aged cheese so, its typically fine.


Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required *

*

Learn to have an amazing birth

(without leaving your couch)

Baby Name Finder

Discover thousands of unique and popular baby names with Mama Natural’s NEW Baby Name Finder.