Getting your iron deficiency under control during pregnancy

By Angeliz Venter

I’ve always struggled to an extent with iron deficiencies, especially during the time when I have my menstrual cycle, but for the first few months of my pregnancy I was abnormally tired and fatigued and as I progressed into the second trimester it got worse, to the point where I felt I can do nothing but just lie down and sleep. My gynecologist recommended that I get a few blood tests (which is standard during pregnancy) and these indicated that I was anemic, due to an iron deficiency.

Having anemia during pregnancy is not uncommon and most pregnant women struggle with this. Anemia essentially means that your blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells, which in turn restricts enough oxygen from reaching your organs causing you to feel fatigued, have shortness of breath, skin pallor, light headedness, dizziness and have a fast heartbeat. All of this can be caused by an iron deficiency (the most common reason during pregnancy), vitamin B deficiency or even blood loss, which will have to be treated by blood transfusions. For this blog, I will focus solely on the iron deficiency part as this is what I struggled with and can relate to.

Firstly, I started taking extra iron supplements, which can get quite expensive every month if you combine that and your pre-natal vitamins etc. In the beginning it actually made me very nauseous and one of my friends in the medical field suggested that I take it in the morning with orange juice and in the middle of my meal, while trying to avoid diary for the first few hours before and after I take it. It might also help you to have it with your dinner, but I am one of those people that start checking out of my day mentally at 16:00 and then forget everything I had to do, so the morning works better for me. The reason they suggest that you take the iron supplement with orange juice or a source of vitamin C is for better absorption and diary interferes with that absorption, making it less effective. It was also suggested that I drink a lot of freshly squeezed juice which are high in iron, for example beetroot and spinach juice. I will be honest and say that I struggled to drink these and I even have one bottle in the fridge currently that I just can’t get myself to consume. I also added pickled beetroot to my meals, but ultimately, I needed to replace that iron loaded juices. That is when I found Smoothie Box on Instagram and I collaborated with them, not knowing they have an Iron Boost smoothie. Everyone that knows me, knows that I am an avid smoothie drinker and will go to the gym only for the smoothie afterwards! During my pregnancy, my love for smoothies enhanced even further (there is just something about a pregnant woman and her love for ice no matter what the season). I reached out to Smoothie Box and asked them to send me some of their Iron Boost smoothies to see if it would be better than the freshly squeezed juices and let me tell you, it is delicious!

Let’s start with how easy it is to order and the admin side of things. You can buy from their online store and selected retailers and stockists that’s also mentioned on their website and social media. On the website you just select from which area you are ordering and the website will show you all the options of available smoothie boxes within your area. You then basically compile your own order with different smoothies (or all the same, it depends on you) and you check out, as easy as that! Deliveries are also super-fast and convenient, going out every Tuesday and Thursday. A BIG win for me is the fact that for both my parcels the smoothies always arrived frozen and I could see it didn’t defrost once on the journey. The Smoothie Box staff are also incredibly helpful and responsive on their social media platforms and emails, which just gives me an extra bit of confidence ordering from them.

Now, for the fun part, the actual smoothie! All their smoothies come in frozen pieces and blocks and you just have to add boiling or hot water to the cup to achieve the consistency that you want, for example add less water for a smoothie bowl and more if you like a more drinkable smoothie. You then add this mixture to your blender and blend until you are happy with the consistency and can’t see anymore frozen pieces. As easy as that! No more cutting up fresh fruit or getting frozen fruit and veg out of the freezer and then trying to get the right amounts from the bags while your hands freeze! Although the Iron Boost smoothie is not my favorite in their range, it is still so delicious and ticks all the boxes that I need for my pregnancy. It consists of beetroot, mixed berries, acai, ginger, banana, dates and chia seeds. All these ingredients together give the following health benefits:
• High in Iron
• High in Fiber
• Improved Blood Flow
• Lower Blood Pressure
• Antioxidants
• Anti-Aging
• General Skin Health
• High in Vitamin B9
• High in Folate
• High in Potassium

Another thing I like about this smoothie (and most of their smoothies) is the fact that it contains dates. It obviously adds a sweet taste to it, BUT dates are also known to assist with an easier and shorter labour that is less painful and to ripen and soften your cervix for birth! Dates also consists of high amounts of fiber, which aids constipation (this is a symptom most pregnant women struggle with) and in turn this natural laxative aids your contractions. Dates are also high in Vitamin K, Iron and Folate which decreases the likelihood of birth defects. Although this smoothie doesn’t consist of the recommended 6 dates per day from 36 weeks, it can definitely supplement that amount if you are like me and struggle to eat the dates raw and have to hide it in other food!

Some people might think (and have actually said so as well) that I am extreme with how I approach my pregnancy, but I truly believe that if you prepare and educate yourself enough, you will be calmer about your pregnancy and birth. Most women have to get a blood transfusion during their pregnancy to prepare for birth and the blood loss that comes with it, but I recently did the blood tests again to check my iron levels and it completely returned to normal, this means that whatever I am doing for my body is working and might even work for you to!

You can order your smoothies at

Enjoy the romance of wine, without the risk

By Angeliz Venter

A few weekends ago one of our friends asked me if I missed “the romance” of sitting with a glass of red wine and just relaxing… and that is when I realized that, that is exactly what I missed about drinking wine, not necessarily the alcohol content, but the romance of it!

As an avid wine drinker in the past, sitting down after a difficult day, pouring myself a glass of wine and feeling the stress of the day melt away, was one of the best things a drink could do for me! I always thought it is the alcohol content that gave me that relaxed feeling and maybe to some extent it was and that always made me feel guilty to a degree for enjoying wine that much. But recently I tried one of Zero Wines dealcoholized red wines from Norah’s Valley and I felt the exact same sense of release as soon as I poured myself a glass and sat down to relax.

Being 36 weeks pregnant, I often miss the social aspects around having an alcoholic drink and I think it is the same dynamic with having a glass of wine, even if it is dealcoholized. My experience might be different from what other people and especially pregnant women experience, but as soon as I had my glass of dealcoholized wine in front of me, I relaxed and with the first sip, it almost felt like I was drinking normal wine! I do believe that a big part of this sensation is captured mentally and it is not necessarily physical, as long as it is in a wine glass and taste as close to wine as possible. During my pregnancy, I’ve tried my fair share of alcohol free and dealcoholized drinks and even drinking apple juice with sparkling juice in a beer glass, but the Velvet Red from Norah’s Valley really did taste like the real thing!

During my pregnancy, I’ve seen pregnant women enjoy a glass of wine and I’ve also been getting a lot of feedback from people saying I am too strict with what I don’t consume, but one thing that was non-negotiable for me was the use of alcohol before we got pregnant and during my pregnancy. I wanted to prepare my body for pregnancy and I got educated on the risks of using alcohol during pregnancy. That being said, if you are a pregnant woman having an occasional glass of wine, there is no judgement and each woman should do what she feels is best for herself and her baby.

When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, the alcohol content passes through your placenta, directly to your baby and your baby is not equipped currently to be able to process the alcohol, because the liver is one of the last organs to develop and it can have devasting effects on your unborn child.

Associated risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy:
• Increased risk of miscarriage
• Premature birth
• A low birth weight
• You baby can develop foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), which has the following implications:
1. Problems with learning and behaviour
2. Weak joints, bones, muscles and organs
3. Difficulty managing emotions and developing social skills
4. Hyperactivity and minimum impulse control
5. Problems with communication and speech
6. Susceptibility to seizures
7. Impaired hearing

After knowing all these risks, the decision to not consume any alcohol was easy for me, but there are also benefits in drinking wine, especially red wine that needs to be considered and THAT is exactly why I love Zero Wines. You can still get all the benefits of drinking wine; without the risks it imposes to you and your baby. One of these benefits is the decrease in your risk of having cardiovascular diseases. De-alcoholized red wine consists of the same level of polyphenols than alcoholic red wine, this is the antioxidants that reduce your blood pressure and prevent cancerous, inflammatory and neurodegenerative illnesses.

Here are some of the benefits of de-alcoholized and non-alcoholic wines:
• Lowers blood pressure
• Reduces blood clots
• Lowers low-density (LDL) cholesterol
• Slows the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson Disease
• Has anti-diabetic potential
• Fewer calories
• Helps with common cold

Taking everything into account, there is a lot of things to consider when choosing your go to drink for special occasions (or just every day) during your pregnancy. For me it was an easy choice, that I will continue during my pregnancy and possibly breastfeeding and Zero Wines makes it even easier with a wide variety of different wines ranging from red wines to sparkling wines. You can order directly from them at and they offer quick and efficient delivery nationwide.