FAQs: Food and pregnancy

Posted on 22 July 2014

If you’re expecting, there’s a lot you’re probably finding out. Here are a few questions you may be asking about food.

I’ve just found out that I’m eight weeks pregnant, and I’ve been eating sushi regularly. Can this harm my baby?
In general, pregnant women shouldn’t eat raw fish, as they run the risk of exposure to high mercury, dioxin and PCB levels, potential infestation with worms and ingestion of vita-thiamine (Vitamin B1) enzymes. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should limit their intake of raw fish and seafood, and be sure to buy from a good restaurant that uses well-frozen supplies. Eating sushi twice a month should be safe, provided it’s made with fish that has been frozen at -20°C for at least 24 hours.

I am a vegetarian and have been told that I would need to increase my protein intake while pregnant and breastfeeding – is this true?
Yes, pregnant and breastfeeding women do need slightly more protein than normal, but it’s essential that you go for high-quality protein, such as from milk, dairy products and eggs (if you’re a lacto-ovo-vegetarian). Vegans should eat at least two servings of legumes (dry, cooked or canned beans, peas, lentils or soya) every day to ensure you’re getting adequate protein. Soya is used to make tofu, soya milk and soya yoghurt, so you should have plenty of variety in your diet.

I’m in my first trimester and struggling with constipation. What can I take or do to help ease the symptoms?
Try a high-bran breakfast cereal with stewed dried fruit every morning. Include high-fibre foods at each main meal, such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, whole-wheat crackers, fruit and vegetables. Taking a probiotic such as Bifidoflora, available at health shops, will help normalise the micro-organisms in your digestive tract and counteract constipation.

I have been told that eating nuts during pregnancy can cause my baby to develop a nut allergy. Is this true?
If you don’t have this type of allergy, it’s unlikely that you will sensitise your baby by eating nuts during pregnancy.

Did you know?
In the first three months of pregnancy progesterone levels are elevated, which causes the digestive tract to become sluggish and can result in gas and constipation. Increase your intake of dietary fibre, found in whole grains and unprocessed cereals, fresh and dried fruit, vegetables and legumes to promote regularity and prevent constipation.

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The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.

Published in Healthy Life

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