Can You Become Lactose Intolerant After Pregnancy? Signs, Causes & Treatment

There is a chance of women suddenly becoming lactose intolerant after giving birth. One of the main reasons is the drastic hormonal changes your body goes through. Your immunity decreases during pregnancy so that your body doesn’t reject the fetus. So, in some cases, during and even after pregnancy, some women notice intolerance or sensitivity towards some foods. Another reason for being lactose intolerant after pregnancy is if the small intestine is injured. So, after pregnancy, our bodies may react differently to different foods.

Hi there, dear Mama,

Being pregnant is truly a miracle, but it also is cumbersome and strenuous for the body. As your body is busy developing and nurturing the fetus, your body goes through a great ordeal of drastic hormonal changes and organs being shifted and squished in the process.

There are lots of sudden changes your body sees overnight. For instance, I used to love fried chicken pre-pregnancy and thought the food I’ll crave the most during pregnancy would also be fried chicken, but that was absolutely not the case because every time I smelled fried chicken, I’d go running for the bathroom.

So, it was a very weird phase because after giving birth, I started loving those fried chickens again.

In the same way, because your body already goes through so much, like your immunity being suppressed, because if your body has the same immunity as before pregnancy, your body will fight against the fetus, thinking of it as an invader.

So, your immunity decreases while pregnant, and when it comes back, your body reacts differently to different things consumed, and some women develop lactose intolerance after giving birth.

What is lactose?

Lactose is a form of sugar found in animal milk and dairy products.

Lactose is a disaccharide, meaning double sugar, which the body tends to break down into simple sugars called glucose and galactose. The body, then, uses the energy from these sugars for daily activities.

What is lactose intolerance?

A new mom is finding that she is having lots of pain in her stomach after drinking milk, something that never happened before. Maybe she's become lactose intolerant?

Lactose intolerance, in simple words, is the inability of the body to digest the lactose found in dairy products. The gut produces an enzyme to digest lactose, called lactase.

When the body cannot produce lactase in the amount required to digest lactose, a child or an adult develops lactose intolerance.

Without the required lactase production, lactose cannot be broken down into simple sugars, resulting in the body being gassy, experience abdominal pain, and so on.

What are the causes of lactose intolerance after pregnancy?

The main reason for the body, after giving birth, to be lactose intolerant is the body being immune-suppressed.

The immunity of a pregnant woman is reduced so that the body as a host doesn’t fight off the fetus, thinking of it as an invader, and rather helps nourish it. As the pregnancy goes on, the digestive system gets pushed around and even squished, and we know that so much of our immunity is present in the gut.

When the body becomes immune-suppressed, there’s a shift in how the body reacts to allergens, be it in the food or the environment, and after giving birth, when the immunity comes back, it looks for things to react to.

This is why some women experience lactose intolerance, while some develop food allergies or allergies to certain things present in the environment.

But many women had shared online that they were lactose intolerant before pregnancy and somehow got “cured” during pregnancy and now aren’t sensitive to dairy products.

What are the signs of lactose intolerance?

You can see the signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance within 30 minutes and two hours after consuming milk or other dairy products.

The symptoms can vary and can be anywhere from mild to severe, depending on how much lactose you consumed and how much lactase your body could produce.

The common symptoms of lactose intolerance are-

  • Gassy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps

How is lactose intolerance diagnosed by the doctor?

If you experience many of the symptoms mentioned above after consuming dairy products, your doctor might suggest you get a test for lactose intolerance. The tests will measure the lactase activity in your body after consuming lactose.

Lactose intolerance test

After consuming a drink containing high amounts of lactose, a blood sample is taken to measure your glucose levels. If the glucose levels don’t rise after consumption of the drink, then your body isn’t able to digest the lactose properly.

Hydrogen breath test

Like the lactose intolerance test, you need to consume a drink with high amounts of lactose in it, after which the doctor will measure the amount of hydrogen in your breath when you exhale. If you have high levels of hydrogen, then you might be lactose intolerant.

What is the treatment for lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance doesn’t have a cure. All you need to do is make lifestyle changes, majorly changing your diet.

Many people who are lactose intolerant are still able to consume small amounts of dairy products without having to experience the consequences of being lactose intolerant. Some people experience no symptoms if they consume milk with their meals.

You may still be able to consume yogurt or hard cheese and can replace your regular milk with lactose-free milk. An OTC lactase enzyme is available in the form of capsules or pills, which you can take before consuming dairy products.

You can substitutes for milk like-

  • Soy milk
  • Almonds
  • Egg yolks
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Calcium equipped orange juices
  • Tofu
  • Dried beans
  • Beef liver
  • Broccoli
  • Sesame seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna.

If you think you’re lactose intolerant, it’s best to consult your doctor before making any lifestyle changes to rule out any underlying issues that make you intolerant to dairy products.


Can lactose intolerance be prevented?

Unfortunately no, lactose intolerance cannot be prevented. Still, you can definitely manage it by not including dairy products in your diet, checking the food labels, and looking for dairy-based ingredients.

How do you know if you’re baby is lactose intolerant?

If your baby is lactose intolerant, she experiences symptoms like loose stools, vomiting, frequent crying, uneasiness, squirminess, bloating, and excess flatulence.


So, there you go. Not every woman experience drastic changes in their body and life after giving birth, but that also doesn’t mean that she wouldn’t develop something new or odd or different after pregnancy.

Whether you’re lactose intolerant or not should only be determined after you consult your doctor. If you are lactose intolerant, talk to your doctor about the many alternatives present and available in the market today.

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Located in India and a mother to a joyfully mischievous son, Kelin is the wife of the world’s most patient man and a busy homemaker. When she’s not busy cooking and running after her kid,  you can find her in a corner reading, or penning down words on her laptop. She believes the world will always try to instil ‘mom guilt’ in new mothers, but she goes by the maxim ‘a mother knows best'.

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