Pregnant & Vegan – Is it Healthy? Why or Why Not?

Unfortunately, some doctors are still claiming that a plant-based diet is not sustainable during pregnancy. Several studies have shown that plant-based pregnant women are not at higher risk of severe, adverse pregnancy-related events, such as pre-eclampsia, HELPP syndrome or major birth defects more than non-plant-based pregnant women.

You don’t have to be pressured to give up your vegan values to carry a child. You can still receive the proper nutrients needed to have a healthy pregnancy. There are women debunking vegan pregnancy myths all over the world and showing how they’ve done it every step of the way.

If you are a vegan and having a baby, or planning for a baby, continue reading to some tips you can take towards having a successful plant-based pregnancy and to relieve the doubts that come with having a vegan pregnancy.

Mindset & Self-Care

Releasing fear and cultivating positive thinking are key during pregnancy. The first rudimentary brain activity begins to form around 8 weeks. The fetus is collecting information for life after birth based on the messages the mom is providing (psychologicals). Arming yourself with information is a good way to release fear about the unknown. Research vegan pregnancy topics and the success stories that countless women have had to boost your confidence in having a healthy baby.

It’s important to love yourself and practice self-care to create feelings of assuredness and calm as to not pass on these experiences to the baby.

Pre-Pregnancy Prep

We accumulate toxins from our everyday environment. They come from countless areas in our lives from our homes, work, and commute. These toxins transfer into the womb and the rise in babies being born with allergies, skin conditions and diseases is alarming. Being conscious of what you put in and on your body is a good way to optimize the health of the fetus. You can reduce the chances of your baby inheriting issues by making your womb a safe environment for baby to grow.

Prepping your body with proper nutrients and exercise is a wonderful way for baby to have the best start at life. Copper is an important nutrient rarely talked about. It is estimated that the average intake of copper by women of childbearing age is lower than the current estimated safe and adequate daily intake for adults (silverchair). This low copper intake has been correlated with birth defects and even babies being born with the absence of a major portion of the brain called anencephaly.

Lose weight if you need to. Directly speaking, obesity interferes with the menstrual cycle, ovulation and fertility. It also makes you more prone to allergies and infections. This is a time to begin eating an abundance of foods that promote health. Stress-reducing exercises like yoga can also be a big help and continue into pregnancy. Physically active women have been known to reduce labor time as well.

Herbicides and pesticides have shown to interfere with fertility. A diet with an emphasis on organic produce optimizes your chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy.

Supplementing

Vegan or not supplementing is important. With easy access to processed nutrient-deficient foods and GMO produce, food is just not regular food anymore. Even if you eat healthily, soil conditions are on decline as a result of modern farming methods and mineral supplementation is a necessary form of insurance to keep our minds and bodies well.

Pregnancy requires additional nutrition as well. Most women are advised to take a daily prenatal vitamin while pregnant, but absorption levels are difficult to determine per individual so taking additional supplementation is a good preventative action.

In general, a plant-based diet is a more healthful option to a meat-based diet, and many vegans get a large amount of minerals(1). As a pregnant vegan you need to increase your mineral intake, and eating more is not always the best option (nausea, additional weight gain). Supplementation is a great solution to get those extra vitamins and minerals without having to eat more meals.

Crucial Foods & Minerals

There is increasing evidence that the foundation of a significant number of developmental defects may be because of low-quality nutrition during the embryonic and fetal growth process. There is an upside to this information because it suggests that the frequency of birth defects and pregnancy complications may be reduced significantly through dietary modification. (2)

Folate, b12 and iron are common minerals encouraged by doctors for women to take while pregnant, but there are a few others to take into strong consideration for healthy fetal development and also as a vegan.

Copper- Abnormal labor and brain disfigurement are associated with copper deficiency. Copper is needed for proper circulation of blood. The blood supply doubles when pregnant so it is essential to have smooth flowing blood that helps form the baby’s heart, blood vessels, and skeletal and nervous systems. (3)

Iodine- Iodine is critical for baby’s brain development and strongly correlated with intelligence(4). Iodized table salt is a common recommendation to get this mineral, but table salt is chemically derived and not a very healthy option. You can get iodine from sources such as seaweed, kelp, dulse (pretty much any sea vegetable) and fortified plant milk.

Vitamin D- Most vitamin D is metabolized in the skin after exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun. Relatively few foods are good sources of this vitamin. (5). It can be consumed through fortified plant milk, such as, almond or coconut milk. Vitamin D is known to help build strong bones due to its ability to help the body absorb calcium. The baby’s vitamin D levels may be influenced by the mother’s.

Successful Vegan Pregnancies

There are hundreds if not thousands of bloggers, vloggers and mothers from everywhere who have documented their successful vegan pregnancies and are now raising fully plant-based children. Here are a few links below of some popular vegan YouTuber’s that have documented their journey’s.

Diet, mental state, and self-care are crucial to a healthy successful pregnancy. Preparing your body for the journey is essential to carrying to full term and having a less difficult pregnancy. Supplementing is added insurance that you are getting enough minerals and nutrients. A healthy mindset is also necessary for both your and the baby’s experience during this time and the long-term effects of the child’s life. No need to worry. Remember, there is an abundance of resources to keep you feeling confident during this precious time.

Note: All diets, especially when pregnant, should be consulted with a doctor. Amare is not a medical entity. Please communicate and work closely with your doctor to do what best for you and your family.

References:

  1. https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/a-fetus-can-sense-moms-psychological-state.html
  2. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article-pdf/67/5/1003S/24038015/1003s.pdf
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC546694
  4. https://www.babycenter.com/0_copper-in-your-pregnancy-diet_677.bc
  5. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/08/24/iodine-supplements-during-pregnancy.aspx
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235246/

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