6 Cheeses to Avoid & 6 to Eat While Breastfeeding

by Ella

Breastfeeding is a time of special consideration when it comes to dietary choices. What a mother consumes can directly affect her baby through breast milk. Dairy products are an essential part of many diets, and cheese is a beloved dairy product for many. However, not all cheeses are safe for breastfeeding mothers. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the world of cheese, discussing which cheese varieties to avoid while breastfeeding, the reasons behind these restrictions, and safe cheese choices that can be enjoyed without concerns.

The Importance of Breastfeeding Nutrition

Breast milk is a remarkable source of nutrition for infants. It not only provides essential nutrients but also contains antibodies and enzymes that protect babies from infections and diseases. A breastfeeding mother’s diet plays a significant role in determining the quality of her breast milk. While it is crucial to maintain a balanced diet during this time, it is equally important to be aware of specific foods and substances that could potentially harm your baby.


Cheese is a versatile and flavorful food product that is a common component of many diets. However, certain types of cheese may contain harmful bacteria, excessive sodium, or other components that are not ideal for breastfeeding mothers and their infants.


Cheese to Avoid While Breastfeeding

Not all cheeses are off-limits while breastfeeding, but some should be consumed with caution or avoided altogether. Here are the cheeses that breastfeeding mothers should be wary of:


1. Soft and Unpasteurized Cheeses

Soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, and feta can be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can lead to listeriosis, a severe foodborne illness. This bacterium can be particularly harmful to newborns, as their immune systems are not yet fully developed.


2. Blue Cheese

Blue cheese, including varieties like Gorgonzola and Roquefort, is another cheese to be avoided while breastfeeding. Like soft cheeses, blue cheese can carry the risk of Listeria contamination.

3. Unpasteurized Cheeses

Unpasteurized or raw milk cheeses, often considered more flavorful, are not recommended for breastfeeding mothers. These cheeses can harbor harmful bacteria, including Listeria and Salmonella, which can be transferred to the baby through breast milk.

4. Processed and High-Sodium Cheeses

Highly processed and salty cheeses like American cheese and cheese spreads should be consumed in moderation during breastfeeding. Excess sodium can lead to elevated blood pressure and other health issues, which can be transmitted through breast milk.

5. Mold-Ripened Cheeses

Mold-ripened cheeses, such as certain types of Boursin or Cambozola, should be avoided while breastfeeding due to the risk of mold contamination. Mold spores can potentially be harmful to both mother and baby.

6. Cheese Made from Unpasteurized Milk

Cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, regardless of their texture or variety, should be avoided. Unpasteurized milk can harbor various harmful bacteria and pathogens, making it a potential risk during breastfeeding.

Why Should You Avoid These Cheeses?

Avoiding the cheeses mentioned above while breastfeeding is essential for several reasons:

1. Listeria Risk

Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium found in soft cheeses and blue cheese, poses a significant risk. Listeria infection can lead to listeriosis, which can cause severe symptoms in infants, including fever, poor feeding, and irritability. In extreme cases, it can result in life-threatening complications.

2. High Sodium Levels

Processed and high-sodium cheeses can lead to increased blood pressure, potentially affecting the health of both the mother and the infant. High sodium intake can be transmitted through breast milk.

3. Risk of Mold Contamination

Mold-ripened cheeses, while beloved for their unique flavors and textures, can sometimes carry the risk of mold contamination. Mold spores can be harmful, leading to health complications in both the breastfeeding mother and her baby.

4. Unpasteurized Milk Dangers

Unpasteurized milk cheeses are more likely to harbor harmful bacteria and pathogens. Consuming these cheeses can increase the risk of foodborne illnesses, which can be transmitted through breast milk.

Safe Cheese Choices for Breastfeeding Mothers

While certain cheeses should be avoided during breastfeeding, there are plenty of safe and delicious cheese options for nursing mothers to enjoy. Here are some cheese varieties that are considered safe for breastfeeding:

1. Hard Cheeses

Hard cheeses like cheddar, Parmesan, and Gouda are generally safe choices for breastfeeding mothers. Their lower moisture content makes them less susceptible to bacterial contamination.

2. Processed Cheese

Processed cheese, like mild Swiss or low-sodium American cheese, can be enjoyed in moderation. However, it’s crucial to select options with reduced sodium content to ensure a healthy choice for both mother and baby.

3. Pasteurized Cheeses

Cheeses made from pasteurized milk are a safe bet. Most cheeses in supermarkets and grocery stores are made from pasteurized milk, but it’s always a good practice to check the label for confirmation.

4. Semi-Soft Cheeses

Some semi-soft cheeses like Monterey Jack or mozzarella are typically considered safe during breastfeeding. Be sure to opt for those made from pasteurized milk.

5. Cream Cheese

Cream cheese, whether regular or low-fat, is safe to consume during breastfeeding. It is widely used as a spread and can be incorporated into various recipes without concern.

6. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is another safe and versatile choice for breastfeeding mothers. It is rich in protein and can be enjoyed with fruits, vegetables, or as a topping for various dishes.

See Also: 18 Creative Cottage Cheese Recipes

Practice Safe Cheese Handling

In addition to making the right cheese choices, it’s crucial to handle and store cheese properly to minimize the risk of contamination. Here are some tips for safe cheese handling:

Check Labels: Always check cheese labels for information about pasteurization and sodium content.

Storage: Properly store cheese in the refrigerator, ensuring it is well-sealed to prevent cross-contamination with other foods.

Cleanliness: Maintain good hygiene when handling cheese, including clean hands and utensils.

Cooking: Cooking cheese can also be a safe way to enjoy it. Melting cheese onto dishes, such as lasagna or casseroles, can eliminate potential contaminants.

Monitor Expiration Dates: Pay attention to the expiration dates on cheese packaging and discard any cheese that has passed its shelf life.

Seek Guidance from a Healthcare Professional

While this article provides general guidelines, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant for personalized advice on dietary choices during breastfeeding. Your healthcare provider can consider your specific health status and any individual concerns to provide tailored recommendations.


Cheese is a delightful and versatile food enjoyed by many, and while breastfeeding, it’s crucial to make safe and healthy choices for both you and your baby. Avoiding certain types of cheese, such as soft and unpasteurized varieties, is essential to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses and potential harm to your infant. However, there are numerous safe cheese options available for breastfeeding mothers, including hard cheeses, pasteurized cheeses, and processed cheese with reduced sodium content.

Remember that maintaining proper cheese handling and hygiene is as important as making safe cheese choices. When in doubt, always seek guidance from your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant to ensure that your dietary choices align with your unique health and dietary needs during the breastfeeding period.



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