How to Be a Vegetarian Mom: Helpful Tips for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Getting Key Nutrients
During and after pregnancy, there is an increased need for foods rich in iron, calcium, and good fats, which simultaneously work to keep the mother healthy and the baby growing.
- Iron, which is normally depleted during pregnancy and lactation, can be found naturally in green leafy veggies and nuts. Dr. Michael Klaper, MD, author of Vegan Nutrition Pure and Simple, advises pregnant and lactating moms to increase their vitamin C intake as this aids in iron absorption, and to reduce their consumption of foods that decrease iron absorption such as dairy products and phosphoric acids (found in sodas).
- Calcium, another important nutrient during the childbearing years, is abundant in broccoli, spinach, and nuts, especially almonds. Many juices, foods, and cereals are now fortified with calcium as well.
- Essential fatty acids can be found in avocado, nuts, and legumes, as well as in healthy cooking oils such as olive, safflower, and flaxseed.
Benefits for Mom
Healthy vegetarian women who enter pregnancy often find that their foods are easy to digest, prepare, and tolerate. In the early weeks of pregnancy, fatigue and nausea often limit a woman’s range of foods. Soy protein shakes, fresh fruits, raw veggies, and nuts to munch on provide important nutrients with little fuss. As the pregnancy progresses and the appetite (and waistline) expands, veggie moms report a healthy but conservative amount of weight gain as well as minimal discomfort from constipation or swelling.
Christa, a mother of three, recalls that for each pregnancy, her diet was a bit different. Discomfort during her first pregnancy and birth inspired her to seek an improved diet for the second pregnancy. At the time, a vegan diet worked well for Christa, and she remembers experiencing significantly less swelling and joint pain.
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