Manuka Honey for Pregnancy and Recovery

Estimated reading time

10 minutes

Essential Takeaways

Experts agree that manuka honey can be safely consumed during pregnancy.

It can also help you to get back to optimal health after childbirth - by providing relief for sore breastfeeding nipples, dulling new stretch marks, and providing you with a natural energy boost when you’re most exhausted.

Infant botulism isn’t a risk, because the bacteria from botulism spores (sometimes found in honey) cannot be passed from mother to child through the placenta.

However, it’s important to never give honey to a newborn baby, as it can have deadly consequences.

Are you pregnant and craving hot, crusty toast slathered with honey?

…or did you just glance at the person next to you…?

If you’re wondering whether pregnant women can eat honey, and if you should choose strawberry jam instead, we’re here to put your mind at ease.

Yes, you absolutely can. But that’s not all it’s useful for.

We’re going to cover everything here - from infant botulism to raw honey, the debate between pasteurized and unpasteurized, how it can be used to help recover after pregnancy, and more.

In this guide on manuka honey and pregnancy:

Let’s get into it.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Honey?

Yes, go get that piece of toast!

Here’s what the officials say:

But why are people even concerned about pregnant women consuming honey in the first place?

That’s because of infant botulism.

What About Infant Botulism?

Botulism (clostridium botulinum) is a rare, but serious disease that grows in low-oxygen environments like soil and honey.

It affects babies after they are born, but not in the womb.

Botulism can be categorised as either foodborne, wound, inhalation, or infant botulism.

While the bacteria is harmless to older kids and adults, it can be devastating for babies. Their digestive systems are simply not mature enough to handle or process it, and they can get very sick.

“Honey can contain bacteria which can germinate in a baby's gut and cause infant botulism, a rare illness that can cause paralysis and is potentially fatal.”

So make sure to give infant botulism a wide berth by not feeding honey to your baby until they are at least 12 months old. If you are unsure, ask your medical professional for tailored advice.

Can Babies Have Honey?

Absolutely not.

Newborn babies are at the highest risk of botulism.

It’s strongly advised not to give a baby any type of honey.

Here’s what the experts say:

  • Mayo Clinic: “Babies get infant botulism after consuming spores of the bacteria, which then grow and multiply in their intestinal tracts and make toxins.”

  • World Health Organization: “Infant botulism occurs mostly in infants under 6 months of age… spore-contaminated honey has been associated with a number of cases.”

  • Medical News Today: “The best way to try to prevent infant botulism is to avoid giving honey to a baby under the age of 1 year.”


So, Is Honey Safe During Pregnancy?

Yes, honey is safe for both mum and baby during pregnancy.

As adults, we are frequently exposed to botulism spores without getting sick. And because adult immune systems are strong and able to fight off infections, it is unlikely that any botulinum spores will multiply and cause disease.

“Since any botulism spores present in honey will be killed in a pregnant woman's intestines, they can't reach her bloodstream or be passed on to her baby.”

But what if the spores aren’t killed in your intestines? Is your baby at risk? The answer is no - for something in your system to harm your unborn baby, it has to enter through the placenta.

“The botulinum toxin has a high molecular weight, which makes it unlikely to pass through your placenta and reach your baby. That means that even if you eat honey that contains botulism spores, your baby should be protected.”

How about if you get infected with botulism? Could this pass on to your baby?

“In rare cases where pregnant women have become ill with botulism, the illness wasn't detected in their babies.”

Let’s look now at different types of honey to see if they’re all safe...



We recommend UMF™ 15+

Is Raw Honey Safe During Pregnancy?

It’s well known that cheeses and meats that aren’t processed properly are a no-go for pregnant women.

This sparks the question: is it safe to eat raw honey while pregnant?

Whilst there are no studies looking into the safety of raw honey during pregnancy, there's no reason to believe that it's unsafe.

“Unpasteurized honey doesn't carry the risk of listeriosis you find with unpasteurized cheese and deli meats. In fact, because it's less processed than pasteurized honey, raw honey likely contains more antioxidants.”

Another common question that people ask is whether pasteurized honey is ‘safer’ than unpasteurized honey for pregnant women.

The debate between pasteurised and unpasteurised

“Unpasteurised” means that honey has been taken from the hive with no further heating to kill pathogens. But honey can contain botulism spores regardless of whether it’s been pasteurised or not.

And because there’s no risk of a mother passing botulism to her unborn baby through the placenta, there’s little difference between whether she eats pasteurised or unpasteurised honey.

It appears that some people prefer to avoid unpasteurised honey, but this may be an overly cautious approach due to a lack of knowledge.

While it’s sensible to avoid eating things you might think are ‘risky’, it’s even better to seek answers and understanding.

And when it comes to diseases, It’s important to stick to the facts. We’re here to set the record straight and give you peace of mind.

A pregnant mother cannot cause infant botulism by eating honey.

So, you can eat honey, but which honey should you eat?

Let’s take a look at our personal favourite… Manuka honey.


We recommend UMF™10+ or higher.

Is Manuka Honey Safe For Pregnancy?

Yes. Yes. Yes!

Not only is manuka honey safe for pregnancy, it provides you with a range of health benefits.

We know that manuka honey is great for:

It can also help with insomnia, vitality, and any coughs and colds during pregnancy.

With manuka honey, you’re eating the honey with the highest concentration of antibacterial properties on the planet. You’ll likely be better prepared to fight off any bacteria that you might encounter, speed your recovery, and prevent you from getting sniffly next time.

Eating manuka honey while pregnant is like bringing nature’s living systems to your own ecosystem.

The only question now is… which one should you get?

What’s The Best Manuka Honey For Pregnant Women?

Manuka honey comes in different strengths, and these are precisely measured.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of fake manuka honey circulating the globe, so it’s important to pay attention to true quality markers.

The most comprehensive and trustworthy rating of manuka honey is the UMF™ grading system. This accreditation measures a range of chemical markers, including the methylglyoxal (MGO) level of the honey, which gives it such powerful antibacterial properties.

If you’re looking to get the real deal, make sure to buy a UMF™ graded manuka honey from New Zealand.

When you see the UMF™ label on your honey jar, it means that that particular batch has passed rigorous tests and is held to the highest honey testing standards in the world.

Read more: Manuka honey: Decoding UMF

Our UMF™ grades start at UMF™ 5+ and go up to UMF™ 28+.

But what’s best during pregnancy? We recommended choosing any strength between UMF™ 5+ and UMF™ 20+.

This is potent enough to feel the benefits, yet gentle enough to be introduced to your system easily.

Find out which UMF™ strengths are ideal for different uses.

Read more: Manuka Honey MGO vs UMF™ Calculator

How Much Manuka Honey Can I Have?

We recommend one generous spoonful of manuka honey per day.

This allows you to reap the benefits of it in a quantity that you can easily digest, without loading up on sugars.

When should I stop eating honey while pregnant?

As always, it’s best to consume honey in moderation while you’re pregnant.

However, there are a few safety precautions to keep in mind.

It’s a good idea to stop eating manuka honey in these circumstances:

Now that we’ve talked about eating manuka honey through your pregnancy, let’s have a look at how it can be helpful afterwards.

After Birth: Manuka Honey Can Support You

 Just like your birthing journey doesn’t stop after pregnancy, neither do the beneficial uses of manuka honey!

There are three ways that it can be especially helpful.

Manuka honey and breastfeeding

“A person with sore, cracked nipples will do absolutely anything to bring relief to the pain and heal the damage… Rich in antioxidants, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, manuka honey can be used between feedings to heal nipples fast.”

Medical-grade manuka honey is recommended by Birth Care NZ for mothers with damaged nipples from breastfeeding.

Applying high-grade manuka honey on breast pads can help to soothe and repair damage. You can keep your manuka honey in the fridge if you’d like it to be cooling, too.

Just make sure to wipe any excess honey off before the next round of breastfeeding.

“Sterile, medical grade manuka honey is one of the most unique and beneficial forms of honey in the world. Rich in antioxidants, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, medical grade manuka honey helps to rapidly heal injured wounds, making it ideal for irritated and sore nipples.”

Manuka honey and stretch marks

Is it any surprise that growing a tiny human inside you might have stretched your skin in the process?

After you’ve recovered from your birth and been drenched in newborn snuggles, you can focus on your long-term road to optimal health.

A stretch mark is essentially a type of scar that forms when our skin stretches or shrinks quickly.

Manuka honey is effective on scars and stretch marks and can help to regenerate tissue.

While it might not necessarily remove all scarring, it can certainly help to leave you with less of a trace than if you weren’t using it. We can aid our skin with the incredible, natural process of healing.

Manuka honey and recovering energy

Manuka honey can also assist in getting your energy back.

The combination of giving birth and caring for a newborn is stressful, tiring, and disorientating to say the least.

If you’re looking for a natural way to get a bit of a boost in the morning, manuka honey could be the first thing you taste after getting out of bed (or before, if you keep it bedside!).

From stirring it into your tea, to licking it off the spoon, there are plenty of ways you can add manuka honey into your diet.

Get Your Genuine Manuka Honey From A Trustworthy Source

If by this point, you’re convinced that manuka honey is the right thing to take during your pregnancy, then you’re in the right place.

We take pride in supplying the highest quality, glyphosate-free, UMF™ certified, ethically sourced, genuine, raw manuka honey.

Treat yourself to the best. Shop our range here.

Or are you unsure which grade is right for your needs? Take our free quiz to find out.

Suggested further reading:

Source list (in order of appearance):

Eating well in pregnancy, NHS Inform Scotland

Food safety for pregnant women, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Food safety in pregnancy, NZ Ministry for Primary Industries

Botulism, Mayo Clinic

Infant botulism (for parents), Kids Health

Is it safe to eat honey during pregnancy? Baby Center

Botulism, World Health Organization

Infant botulism: symptoms, prevention and recovery, Medical News Today

Botulism: symptoms and causes, Mayo Clinic

Bacterial spores, U.S. National Library of Medicine

Honey during pregnancy: safety, benefits, and side effects, Pregnancy Food Checker

Can I eat honey while pregnant? Very Well Family

Is it OK to eat honey when pregnant? Hello Motherhood

Is honey safe during pregnancy? Made for Mums

Manuka Honey Benefits [Guide], New Zealand Honey Co.

Natural immunity boosting drink with manuka honey, New Zealand Honey Co.

How to find the best manuka honey for your skin, New Zealand Honey Co.

5 reasons UMF manuka honey is good in pregnancy, Expect Nothing

Antibacterial activity of Manuka honey and its components: An overview, U.S. National Library of Medicine

Fake Honey: What you need to know about counterfeit honey (and how to avoid buying it), New Zealand Honey Co.

Mānuka honey testing, New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries

UMF™ honey and the UMFHA, New Zealand Honey Co.

Unique Mānuka Factor Honey Association

Honey jargon: A glossary of terms, New Zealand Honey Co.

How much UMF™ is enough? New Zealand Honey Co.

Care of nipples, Birth Care Centre NZ

Manuka honey for nipple damage, LA Lactation

The Rumina Difference, Rumina Naturals

Wound physiology, U.S. National Library of Medicine

What’s the best manuka honey for scars? New Zealand Honey Co.

176 ways to use manuka honey, New Zealand Honey Co.

Which manuka honey is right for you? New Zealand Honey Co.

The best place to buy manuka honey? Tick these 7 boxes, New Zealand Honey Co.

Your wellness journey starts with a spoonful a day.

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