A week or so ago, I asked our facebook friends what questions or concerns they had about vegan pregnancy. There were so many awesome responses that I figured I would make it into a little series and incorporate it into my “Vegan Baby Wednesday”. Yep, I’m making that a thing…Today’s Q&A focuses on nutrition during pregnancy.
A: Getting enough calories shouldn’t be too difficult as long as you’re able to keep the food down (those first few months can be tough for some). In fact, doctors only recommend adding an extra 300 calories to a normal diet during pregnancy, which is really only a couple of healthy snacks when you really think about it.
You will need about 70 grams of protein per day during the second and third trimester. This is only 25 grams more than the recommended daily value for the average woman. A few healthy ways I like to add extra protein without adding processed mock meats is to add almond butter on toast or to oatmeal in the morning, eat a handful of whole almonds with a piece of fruit or almond milk yogurt for a snack, load up on protein rich veggies like broccoli & kale, and make nutrient filled protein shakes using Garden of Life Raw Meal!
In my opinion, even the healthiest of mommas should supplement with vitamins and Omegas – especially during pregnancy & breast feeding. Here are a few I took (and still take post-baby):
- Garden of Life Raw Prenatal
- Garden of Life Raw Probiotics
- Garden of Life Raw B-Complex or B-12
- Spectrum Essentials Vegetarian DHA
- Traditional Medicinals Raspberry Leaf Tea (not necessarily a vitamin, but great for your uterus!)
You can also track your intake and outgoing calories using a nutrition tracker such as FitDay.com (it’s free)!
A: Before pregnancy, I had a plan – those 40 weeks would be the healthiest of my life. However, plans change. at the beginning of my pregnancy, I was extremely sick 24-7. Forget morning sickness, it was more like a constant hangover. I couldn’t even look at vegetables and for a few weeks, hole in the wall Mexican food was the only thing I could eat without gagging. I quickly began to gain weight during the first trimester and felt terrible. However, eventually, the morning sickness subsided and I was back to normal.
I’m a firm believer in letting your body do what it was made to do and avoiding medical intervention at all costs. That being said, rather than trying to find a quick fix, it was easiest for me to let the morning sickness run it’s course and re-evaluate things after it was over.
If you are suffering from morning sickness, a few things that did seem to help was eating smaller, more frequent meals (6 per day), taking my vitamins with food, Preggie Pops or YummyEarth Organic lolli-pops, acupuncture, chinese herbal tea (a blend from a trained herbalist) and adding B-vitamins to my diet.
A: As mentioned above, eating smaller, more frequent meals is not only great for pregnancy, but should be adopted by nearly everyone. By doing this, you’re never too hungry, never too full and your metabolism and blood sugar stay on top of their game, preventing rapid weight gain.
However, a lot of times this is difficult when you’re on the move. By packing small healthy meals and snacks in a large lunchbox the night before a big day, you’ll never find yourself famished and jumping to grab Taco Bell while you’re out. Craving Taco Bell even though you packed a meal? Make a healthier version at home!
Also, we often mistake thirst for hunger and during pregnancy, this is no different. To ensure I was getting enough water, I would keep a Life Factory glass water bottle (I LOVE these!) with me at all times. I’d drink at least one bottle before breakfast and another between each meal and/or snack and aim to fill it up at least 4-5 times per day.
A: From herbs to acupuncture, I love Chinese Medicine! During a terrible cold and morning sickness bout, I found a local Acupuncture clinic that specialized in herbs. After a custom concoction blended into a tea (no, it didn’t taste great) and a few needle pricks (no, it doesn’t hurt), my cold was gone and my morning sickness had subsided. I truly believe if I would have kept up with the acupuncture my morning sickness wouldn’t have come back. Also, 5-W prescribed to me by my wonderful midwife at Labor of Love seemed to help bring on the labor!
As for placentas, they are MIRACLE organs. Did you know that humans are the only land mammals that don’t eat their placenta? Studies have shown that this miracle drug can stop bleeding after pregnancy, replenish the nutrients lost during labor, prevent post-partum depression and even help with menopause! And the fact that humans eat much more terrible parts of animals, but haven’t come around to the placenta is beyond me!
I personally come from a family with a history of depression/bi-polar disorder and anxiety. I myself have suffered from post-traumatic depression due to hormone imbalances and stress induced panic attacks, so I was terrified of post-partum depression. Since I can’t/won’t bring myself to eat meat, I didn’t think I’d be able to eat the placenta. However, I did have it encapsulated after learning about it’s benefits from our wonderful instructor Sarah from Blue Moon Birth. I took 3 pills 3 times a day with my vitamins then gradually tapered it down to one pill per day for the last day or two. My energy was through the roof despite lack of sleep, I felt nothing buy love and never even had the “baby blues”! In my opinion, the placenta truly is a miracle drug.
To all of our facebook friends, thanks so much for helping us out by providing the questions in this post! I’ll be answering the rest of your questions in the coming weeks! What are some of your vegan pregnancy/baby questions and concerns? Post them in the comments below and I’ll do a little research and answer them to the best of my ability in the next Vegan Pregnancy Q & A!
Please note: I am not a licensed nutritionist. These recommendations are based off of my personal experiences. If you are experiencing health problems during pregnancy, please consult your midwife or OB.