It’s Pregnancy Awareness Month, and here are nutrition tips you should know

February 19, 2014

This is a sponsored post for Philips Avent

We know that it’s important to eat well during pregnancy and avoid certain foods. And while we might know, we often don’t follow through, for various reasons. I mean, I know Coke, NikNaks, white rolls, mashed potato and bowls and bowls of butternut aren’t great in the quantities I ate them, but it’s what I largely craved. And for the first few months, I *knew* I needed to eat fruit and veg, but I just didn’t feel like them.

And it’s not only about what you eat – it matters how much you eat too.  A UNICEF report on eastern and southern Africa showed that the survival and development of children depends to a large extent on the nutritional status of the mother.

Astrid Anderson of Philips AVENT, explains that a woman, whose nutritional status was poor when she conceived, or who did not gain enough weight during pregnancy will give birth to a low birth weight baby. “With approximately 14 percent of infants in the region weighing less than 2.5 kilos at birth and at a high risk of neonatal mortality, nutrition for women and girls should be high up on the agenda of health departments across the continent.”

But what is moderate, and what is recommended? Since it’s Pregnancy Awareness Month, midwifery consultant Dr Diana du Plessis offers the following dietary guidelines for pregnant women:

“The same eating rules apply during pregnancy as at any other time: Sugary foods and fatty ones should be kept to a minimum; two thirds of the diet should be made up of fruit, vegetables and starchy carbohydrates, such as potatoes, bread, pasta and rice. Two servings should be eaten daily from both the dairy product and protein food groups,” advises Dr du Plessis.

Certain dietary substances are particularly high in demand, so it’s worth knowing what they are and where to find them:

  • Calcium helps develop the baby’s bones and teeth. It is found in milk, yoghurt and cheese. Non-dairy sources of calcium include spinach, canned fish, dried figs, oranges and white bread
  • Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium. It is found in salmon, eggs, butter and cheese
  • Iron is vital for creating the baby’s blood supply. Good sources are red meat, green vegetables, dried fruit, sardines and fortified cereal
  • Vitamin C improves the uptake of iron from non-meat sources, but caffeine and tannins (present in tea and coffee) inhibit absorption
  • Omega 3 fats are important to ensure optimal brain development of the baby.  They can be found in canned, oily fish like sardines

Dr du Plessis cautions that it is important to cut out junk food during pregnancy and reduce the temptation to drink coffee, tea, cola and fizzy drinks because of uncertainties regarding the effect of caffeine and stimulants on the baby.

Foods to avoid during pregnancy:

  • Raw or lightly cooked eggs because of the risk of salmonella (food) poisoning
  • Pâtés, soft whip ice creams, un-pasteurised or soft cheeses (camembert, brie) that may contain listeria, a bacterium which can cause miscarriage or illness in newborn babies
  • Liver: It contains large quantities of vitamin A, linked to birth defects.
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1 Comment

  • Jacoline

    I craved milk during the first and second trimester of my pregnancy. At least it was healthy for my baby 🙂

    August 19, 2014 at 12:09 pm Reply
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