What to eat and drink (and what not to!) during pregnancy

Cape Town based nutritionist Amanda Weber gives us her list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to eating and drinking during pregnancy.

If you’re pregnant, you’re probably getting advice from all sides about what you should and shouldn’t be doing – from how you should exercise to what supplements you should be taking. What you should be eating and drinking is probably also up for discussion, but the problem is that there’s lots of conflicting advice on the topic.

Especially in your first trimester, it’s best to be on the safe side, while still making your own decisions that are best for you and your baby. With this in mind, Cape Town based nutritionist Amanda Weber gives us her list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to eating and drinking during pregnancy:

Do’s:

  • Up your fibre intake: This can include eating more nutrient-dense foods like prunes and dates.
  • Increase your fluids: Drink more water or non-caffeinated drinks like rooibos tea.
  • Eat more foods rich in magnesium: A magnesium deficiency in pregnant women can cause cramping, so try and eat magnesium-rich foods like avocado and baby spinach.   
  • Increase your iron intake: Foods like dried apricots, wholegrains and lentils are an excellent source of plant-based iron.
  • Consume more calcium: Calcium-rich foods like yoghurt and sardines help with the healthy skeletal development of your baby.

Don’ts

  • Alcohol: There is simply no proven safe limit of alcohol to consume during pregnancy, so it’s best to avoid it completely.
  • Soft cheese: Soft cheeses, including camembert, roquefort and brie, may contain salmonella.  
  • Pâté: Always treat preserved meats with caution and avoid them where possible.
  • Deli meats: Processed meats like ham and polony can post a listeria threat, which can be very dangerous for pregnant women.
  • Uncooked egg products: Avoid foods like underdone quiches, or drinks and smoothies that contain uncooked eggs.
  • Shellfish and sushi: Foods like crayfish, mussels and oysters, as well as the raw fish contained in sushi, can be tainted with mercury which can be very harmful to your unborn baby.
  • Raw meat: This includes foods like carpaccio and biltong, which can be contaminated with bacteria.
  • Unwashed vegetables and fruit: Always make sure you wash raw fruits and vegetables before eating them, or if you’re in a restaurant, check that this has been done for you.
  • Salad bars: Salads in a buffet or supermarket could become contaminated as they’re standing open for hours at a time (often without refrigeration) and they’re also being handled by many people, which can increase the spread of germs.
  • Coffee: While you don’t have to avoid this altogether, it’s best to restrict your coffee consumption to one or two cups per day. More than this can negatively influence your calcium and iron absorption, which are very important minerals for both mother and baby.  
  • Energy drinks: Avoid drinks like Red Bull that are very high in caffeine and other stimulants like taurine.

While at times – especially in the last few weeks – pregnancy can feel like it will never end, it’s actually a very short span of time in your new chapter as a parent. Keep this in mind and it will make avoiding these foods even easier, knowing that it’s only temporary. Before you know it, you’ll have your baby in your arms and can then enjoy a brie and ham sandwich with gusto!

Choosing the right medical aid is no joke, but we’ll leave you smiling.