Small, considered changes in the way you eat will help keep both you and your growing baby healthy

Pregnancy comes with a long list of things expectant mothers should and should not do. One big area of interest is food. Unlike any other time in her life, pregnancy is a time when a mother-to-be is advised to stop eating certain foods.

There is no single South African list for pregnant moms and so, as South Africans, we often borrow international recommendations. There is no single international list either, which can lead to confusion as different countries and cultures recommend avoid different foods.

What is the idea behind limiting certain foods?

The most important reason is: To avoid food poisoning. As a pregnancy progresses, a mother’s immune system is suppressed by hormones to stop her immune system from attacking her growing baby. This is important for the healthy development of the baby but places the mother at increased risk of illness, including food-borne illnesses. This is a problem because food-borne illnesses can increase the risk of preterm birth or miscarriage.

Foods that should be avoided for this reason include:

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  • raw eggs
  • raw seafood and fish
  • soft, moulded cheeses

Other recommendations are made to reduce your baby’s exposure to compounds that are known to cause birth anomalies. Examples of these include:

  • alcohol
  • high intake of vitamin A from liver or supplements
  • mercury intake from fish such as tuna and salmon

What about that cup of coffee?

One item that many women cut out altogether but do not need to is caffeine. The safe upper limit during pregnancy is 200mg per day – roughly one cup of coffee or two cups of strong tea. Water is the preferred way to quench your thirst while pregnant.

Pregnancy is a nine-month journey. Small, considered changes to the way you eat will help keep both you and your growing baby healthy.

For more information on what to eat and what to avoid, as well as how to exercise while pregnant, check out the Fabifit Pregnancy Workout and Nutrition Guide at