Benefits for Baby
Babies grow and thrive on a variety of foods. A good vegetarian diet contains a rich mix of nutrients that help ensure an adequate diet, which translates into a beautiful growth rate for Baby. After birth, as the baby is nurtured from the mother's milk, a diet that is free from, or low in, dairy products can lead to less fussiness and spitting up. In their book Healthy Eating for Life for Children, the members of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine encourage vegetarian breastfeeding mothers to maintain their diet as a clean and healthy choice (environmentally) that will help the baby for a lifetime.
During pregnancy and breastfeeding, women are advised to limit caffeine and avoid rapid weight-loss programs, alcohol, and drugs. Increasing environmental concerns about mercury, toxins, and bacteria in meats present a challenge to improve the diet, and for many, that means going vegetarian.
Mona, a mother of two, felt confident with her diet before and during pregnancy. She says, "I worry about the hormones, antibiotics, and steroids used to grow animals. By eating a 'veg' diet, I have no need to worry about these things."
The biggest caution with changing to a vegetarian diet during pregnancy is to ensure that there is adequate planning and education about food choices that accompany an appropriate caloric intake. For many women, the challenges of pregnancy prove to be enough change!
A multivitamin supplement containing minerals, calcium, and folic acid is recommended for pregnant or lactating vegetarian women, or those whose diets are low in dairy products. Pregnant and lactating moms who follow a vegan diet also need to make sure that their supplements include sufficient vitamin B12, which is essential for brain development. Additional supplements may be recommended as needed by your caregiver.