February 10 – 16 is Pregnancy Awareness Week and in recognition of this important time, we are sharing some healthy eating tips for mothers-to-be.
It’s always important to follow a healthy diet but it is even more important during pregnancy, to make sure you and your unborn baby get all the nutrients you need. It is also important to note that your diet needs change during pregnancy, and there are also foods you should avoid. Find some tips below:
Fruits and vegetables are your friend
We all know that fruits and vegetables contain lots of healthy vitamins, minerals and iron. These are particularly important during pregnancy to provide nutrients for your growing baby.
Remember to wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly to avoid parasitic infections and to remove any traces of pesticide sprays. Before drinking fruit juices, don’t forget to read the label to check the juice is pasteurized.
Dairy is not all bad!
Dairy products such as milk, cheese, fromage frais and yoghurt contain calcium which is an important nutrient to support your baby’s growth.
However, not all cheeses are good for you during pregnancy. Mold-ripened soft cheeses, such as brie, camembert and goat cheese, along with soft blue cheeses, should be avoided as they contain the bacteria that can cause Listeriosis – an infection passed from mother to baby through the placenta.
Raw (unpasteurized) milk should also be avoided as it could contain harmful bacteria.
Meat, poultry and fish – preparation is key
Protein is an important part of a balanced diet. Protein can be found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, peas and nuts. When preparing meals containing meat, it is important to ensure that this meat is cooked thoroughly and contains no red or pink juices. Make sure that you wash your hands and utensils after preparing raw meat to avoid toxoplasmosis.
Oily fish such as salmon, sardines or mackerel are a healthy source of protein. However, when pregnant, women should avoid more than two portions per week as these fish contain pollutants like dioxins and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). Some non-oily fish also contain pollutants and should be limited: dogfish, sea bass, sea bream, turbot, halibut and crab.
Some forms of fish, including shark, swordfish and marlin should never be eaten during pregnancy as they contain high levels of mercury, which can affect your unborn baby’s developing nervous system. You should limit your tuna intake, as tuna also contains high levels of mercury.
If you are a sushi-lover, book in a trip to your favorite restaurant once your baby has arrived! Raw fish carries a risk of food poisoning and should be avoided during pregnancy.
Water or coffee?
Drinking plenty of water is just as important as eating the right foods – pregnant women should aim to drink eight glasses of water a day. Water will help keep you hydrated and is also a key component of breast milk.
You don’t need to give up your coffee or caffeinated drinks completely. However, caffeine should be limited to 200mg a day (that’s about two mugs of instant coffee) – so choose your coffee breaks wisely!
If you are unsure about your diet during pregnancy, always consult your healthcare professional for more information.