During pregnancy the foetus is very vulnerable to external factors; because it is still undeveloped it doesn’t have a high self-defence mechanism yet. You should be very careful with what you eat during this time. For example, if you regularly eat raw meat or sushi the child can develop permanent brain damage.
General tips for food
– Always heat your meat or fish at a temperature higher than 70 C°
– Have your fridge at a temperature of 4 C° or less
– Eat slightly more than you usually do, you need more nutrients
– Try to eat varied to make sure you get all the nutrients you need
– Anything rotten or foods that are outside of the fridge for too long should be avoided (check expiration dates).
When you are pregnant you should always cook your meat thoroughly, raw meat might contain parasites (Toxoplasma Gondi species in particular). If you accidentally get this parasite you can have an early birth, a miscarriage or, in a later stage of pregnancy, it can develop permanent brain damage in the baby. Cooking your meat thoroughly will kill these parasites. The parasites will also die if you freeze the meat for at least 2 days at a temperature lower than -12 °C.
You should be careful with liver products such as pâté as well, these contain high amounts of vitamin A. Too much vitamin A is bad for the baby and can cause congenital disorder and can poison the foetus.
Just as with meat, raw fish can be bad for the baby. Foods like sushi and tuna can contain the ‘Listeria Bacteria’. These foods might cause early birth or miscarriage. Try to avoid predator fish as they contain relatively high amounts of mercury and dioxins, these are bad for the growth of a baby. Try not to eat fish more than 2 times a week due to these dioxins.
Spices in general are all edible during pregnancy. There are some spices that can cause early birth when consumed too frequently. These spices are: ephedra, aloe, sassafras, dong quai, kava kava, green ginger, fennel, anise, borage, coltsfoot, dragon, basil, pesto, cinnamon, fenugreek, nigella, feverfew, senna and hawthorn. Most spices haven’t been thoroughly researched yet, so try to stay on the safe side and don’t consume too high quantities of spices. You should also try to avoid calabash chalk and pimba, as they contain high doses of lead.
When you are pregnant most of the nutrients you consume are shared with the baby, therefore several drinks should not be left out of the discussion. Drinks that contain caffeine should be avoided as much as possible, ever since the caffeine in the drink will also affect the baby, caffeine may cause the baby to be born underweight. We have made an indication on an advised maximum amount to have during pregnancy. A maximum dose of 300 mg of caffeine a day is recommended. Below you can find a summary of the amount of caffeine per drink and the amount of milliliters it contains:
- Cup of coffee (125 ml): 85 mg
- Cup of black tea (125 ml): 45 mg
- Glass of chocolate milk (150 ml): 30 mg
- Glass of cola (150 ml): 5 to 35 mg
- Can energy drink (250ml): 88 mg
- Caffeine free coffee (125 ml): 2 to 6 mg
Alcohol should be avoided as well; nobody can say for sure what the damage will be, as the effects are different for every mother and every child. To make sure the child doesn’t suffer any damage from alcohol we advise you not to drink alcohol at all during pregnancy.
In addition to the maximum amount of caffeine that is advised, sweeteners are a point of attention as well. As sweeteners are relatively new to the food industry, insufficient research has been conducted on them. To make sure they won’t affect the growth of the baby they shouldn’t be consumed in too high amounts. In order to stay safe until additional research has been done the following maximum dosages are recommended:
- Aspartame: 40 mg/kg bodyweight/per day
- Acesulfame-K: 15 mg/kg bodyweight/per day
- Cyclamate: 7 mg/kg bodyweight/per day
- Saccharin: 5 mg/kg bodyweight/per day
- Sucralose: 15 mg/kg bodyweight/per day
Dosages are considered without the baby’s weight. When you are pregnant you should always contact a doctor or dietician to make sure your diet is suited to your nutritional requirements.