Vegan mum Becky Beardmore shares her tips for a healthy vegan pregnancy for a happy mum and healthy baby.
So you’re pregnant, congratulations! But what does this mean for your vegan diet? Are you considering a new addition to your family and wonder whether your baby will grow healthily and happily? Will you need to eat meat and dairy again for their successful development? After giving birth to a baby girl two weeks early (induced, because she was growing TOO big!) here are my tips for a healthy vegan pregnancy for a happy mum and healthy baby.
“But where will you get your protein?”
Concerned omni relatives will ask you this many, many times. It is the age-old question we are so accustomed to answering, and during pregnancy is no different. Continue to eat protein-rich foods, such as tofu, beans, lentils and whole grains- just as you usually would pre-pregnancy. Vegetables also contain protein, as do nuts and seeds, so eat a nutrient dense diet and your protein needs will always be met.
Take a look at the top 8 questions asked of vegan parents and how to deal with them…
I’ve heard that dairy is essential for healthy pregnancies.
This is because developing foetus’ need calcium for their bones and teeth. Dairy is not the only way to provide baby with calcium, though. Most plant milks are fortified with calcium, calcium-set tofu is available and it is also found in many leafy greens, such as kale and rocket. Your pre-natal vitamins will cover the calcium intake, too. So don’t worry- there is no need to abandon your dairy-free diet.
But what about morning sickness? I am really suffering and struggling to eat anything.
I can completely relate. Up until the 13th week of my vegan pregnancy, I could barely even move the nausea was so bad. At its worst, I was on the floor of my bathroom and couldn’t even stand up, let alone think about eating. Morning sickness can be debilitating, but your baby won’t suffer. In these early stages, they use up your stockpile of vitamins and minerals, so it’s okay if all you can eat is rye crackers. (I did, and it certainly did not hinder my daughter’s growth). Make sure you drink plenty of water, and if you can’t then see your GP to rule out Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
Other important nutrients for Mum and Baby
During the first trimester, make sure you take 400mcg of Folic Acid daily, to prevent any spinal defects. Your midwife may prescribe supplements to you, or they are readily available from supermarkets and chemists. Additionally, you will need to take a vitamin D supplement- but of course, make sure this is vegan. Many high street stores sell vegan vitamin D in supplement form. Your iron levels should be monitored too, so make sure you stock up on those bags of spinach and tofu blocks!
Most importantly, look after your mental health too.
Pregnancy is exhausting, vegan or non-vegan. It is essential for the health of both you and your baby to take some time out. Run a warm bath with a cruelty-free bath bomb; go to the salon for a couple of hours or simply read a good book and sleep. Soon you will have a healthy baby to occupy your time, so relax and enjoy every moment of your vegan pregnancy.
Check out our top tips for raising happy and healthy vegan children.
Becky Beardmore is an academic studying for a degree in English Language and Literature at Lancaster University, and mum to 3 children. www.rebeccabea12.wixsite.com/heresheglowsagain.