A Vegan Pregnancy Diet | Natural Birth and Baby Care.com

A Vegan Pregnancy Diet

All pregnancy diets take a lot of attention and planning. Learn to enjoy cooking and prepare hearty vegan meals packed with nutrition!

Do please note that a vegan diet is challenging, especially when pregnant. Also consider recent studies on soy and how it may impact your baby. I strongly and personally recommend a diet that includes animal foods, as all traditional cultures fed animal foods to pregnant women to produce robust babies. Your diet is your choice, however. Below are some guidelines for the healthiest vegan pregnancy possible.

Choose properly prepared whole grains and legumes as a basis for your diet. Whole grains are packed with nutrients. They have vitamins and minerals as well as protein. Sprouted or soaked grains are easier on your stomach – both of these processes neutralize the phytic acid in grains.

You should select dishes that combine more than one type of protein (such as beans and tortillas) so that you can be assured that you are getting complete proteins with each meal. You can take a “daily” view of protein combining, but per meal is often already part of many traditional ethnic cuisines and means you don't have to worry about it past that meal.

Using cast-iron cookware has been proven to increase the amount of iron you get in your diet. For an even more beneficial effect you could have a citrus food or drink served with the meal cooked in cast-iron. Consciously choose to enhance the iron in your vegan pregnancy diet.

The dietary recommendations listed here are based on the research and case studies of the late Dr. Tom Brewer. Brewer achieved excellent success for twelve years using these recommendations with some of the most at-risk mothers in Contra Costa County (CA, USA), and many midwives recommend pregnancy diet components in line with his.

Calcium sources

Calcium is very important to you and to your baby. It's a myth that your baby will just take what he or she needs from your body. You need to provide it. Most nut varieties have a lot of calcium, protein, and good fats – these are all things you want during pregnancy. Make nuts a staple of your pregnancy diet. You can also get calcium from other sources such as kale, kelp, and Brewer's yeast, among others.

Protein

There are many protein sources for you to choose from. You want to choose about 9 protein servings each day. This is a lot, so plan to eat all your meals and several snacks each day.

Beans and legumes offer large amounts of protein so use them in casseroles and other dishes as a cornerstone of your meals. Use soy only in small amounts because it has potent hormonal effects (from phytoestrogens) that have been shown to have effects on the developing baby. Traditionally fermented soy, like tempeh served in moderation, is the best choice.

Whole grains, nuts, and some vegetables are other good sources of proteins. Nuts are also full of healthy fats.

You can combine protein sources as they would be naturally for meals – such as a rice and lentil loaf or a spinach and sesame salad. These will give you complete protein combinations.

Protein is vital to your vegan pregnancy diet. It is the building blocks of your baby. You want all the protein your baby needs to go right to him or her, so be sure to eat all the servings you need daily. In addition, get all the carbohydrates and fats you need – if you don't, your body will burn the protein it needs for you and your baby. Getting plenty of carbs and calories will ensure that the protein is being used for your baby.

(NOTE: Trying to balance your pregnancy, life, and getting ready for baby? Use my checklist pack stay healthy (naturally), organized, and confident throughout your pregnancy! Get them here.) Ultimate Pregnancy Checklist Pack

Dark Leafy Greens

Treat yourself to around two servings of dark leafy greens each day. You can have salads if you enjoy them. Dark leafy greens such a lettuces (not iceberg lettuce! Go with a dark type like romaine or green leaf) spinach, and mustard greens are packed with nutrition. Choose fresh or frozen varieties for lots of vitamins. You'll also get some iron from each serving. Leafy greens will help keep you from getting constipated as well.

Whole Grains/Carbohydrates

You'll want to have around five servings of whole grains each day. These grains will give you carbohydrates that your body needs. Carbohydrates are burned for energy. It's important to get enough carbohydrates in your vegan pregnancy diet! Otherwise your body will burn protein that you and your baby need.

Whole grains are the best carbohydrate to get because they provide you with vitamins, minerals, and small amounts of protein. You get B vitamins from whole grains, which are essential for your body. You'll also get folic acid, an essential nutrient for your baby.

Wheat, oats, rice, corn, and other whole grains are all a good choice. You can enjoy them as breads, pastas, breakfast porridges, cooked rice, or other tasty of whole grain dishes.

Many fruits and vegetables have generous servings of carbohydrates as well and you can have them. Potatoes, berries, squashes, and other fruits often fill requirements. Raisins can also count as a serving (and gives you some iron).

Vitamin C foods

These foods are often a favorite part of the vegan pregnancy diet! Have a couple of servings each day of a vitamin C rich food. Oranges and tomatoes are favorite vitamin C rich foods. You may also love cantaloupe and strawberries! Many fruits are rich in vitamin C.

Fats and Oils

As was noted in the protein section, you need a lot of good fats. Fats help your body to have the energy it needs to grow your baby and to get you through each day. It also helps your skin and other vital systems in your body. If you don't get enough, your body begins breaking down the protein that is needed to build your baby. Get around nine fat servings a day.

There are plenty of tasty ways to quickly add fat into your vegan pregnancy diet. Cook in good olive oil or coconut oil, or find tasty salad dressings. Nuts are, again, a good source of fats. Chocolate (baking) counts, but use in moderation! Other tasty foods like avocados, olives, and coconut are rich in good fats.

If you choose to have margarine, select the brand you buy very carefully. Margarine is often made from hydrogenated oils, which are not good for your body and shouldn't be part of a vegan pregnancy diet. Try and find a natural margarine – soft margarine in a tub is your best bet if you must use it. For the safest diet, though, use coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil.

Vitamin A foods

Vitamin A helps protect your body from infection. Have one serving each day. Your body will assimilate and produce the amount of vitamin A it needs from your food choice each day. Cantaloupe, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes all have plenty of vitamin A – these are tasty and filling additions to a vegan pregnancy diet. Deep yellow fruits and vegetables are often a good source.

Salt: Salt to taste during pregnancy

Your blood volume will expand dramatically during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. Salt helps your body retain this expanded blood volume. This is essential to your vegan pregnancy diet (to all pregnancy diets…)

Drink plenty of water, salt to taste, and use the bathroom frequently. Getting plenty of protein and a complete balanced vegan pregnancy diet will help ensure your excellent health during pregnancy. Salt does not cause abnormal swelling during pregnancy – if you have abnormal amounts of swelling, contact a care provider.

Water

Drink 8-10 glasses of water every day. This helps your body clear all the wastes that need to be cleared, it helps keep you regular, and it helps with your expanding blood volume.

Snacks

If you've eaten everything recommended for a vegan pregnancy diet and are still hungry, choose nutritious snacks to fill up. If you are carrying multiples, you will need to do more snacking because you'll need additional protein and nutrients. Snack with healthy foods and you'll find you grow a healthy baby!

Supplements

Go with a quality prenatal vitamin if you're going to have a vegan pregnancy diet. It's extra insurance that you'll be getting all that your baby needs. Make sure that it's providing you the B12 you need.

Also take supplements to keep your iron levels high (you can also consider these if you're eating meats but anemic.) One tablespoon of blackstrap molasses a day and one tablespoon of Brewer's yeast (not baking yeast) are good for helping your iron stores. Prune juice is very high in iron. Drink a cup a day if your iron levels need boosting. You may also want to consider an herbal iron supplement as part of the vegan pregnancy diet.

(NOTE: Trying to balance your pregnancy, life, and getting ready for baby? Use my checklist pack stay healthy (naturally), organized, and confident throughout your pregnancy! Get them here.) Ultimate Pregnancy Checklist Pack

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