Being pregnant means making several lifestyle changes, but is leaving behind veganism one of them, or can you be a pregnant vegan?
Expectant mothers worry about the health of their unborn child all the time. Hence, they take every movement, every morsel of food, and every sip of water with intent.
Pregnant ladies are hyper-aware of their every action, or at least they try to be. So when it comes to staying vegan or going vegan during pregnancy, women think long and hard about it.
Even though people are aware of the benefits of a vegan diet; during pregnancy, parents-to-be fear providing their child with a nutrient-deficient diet if they continue on this diet.
But with proper planning and due consideration, moms-to-be can give their unborn child all the necessary nutrients without having meat/dairy.
Experts believe that women can compensate for any nutrient-deficiency in their regular vegan routine by taking supplements or other non-meat sources of it.
However, many first-time-parents want to do everything by the book; therefore, they like to know if staying vegan is the right thing to do. Let’s find out.
Should you stay vegan during pregnancy?
The percentage of vegans and vegetarians has increased during the last decade due to its connection with improved health.
The increasing dependency on sans-meat diets has led experts to run studies on the purported health benefits of an herbivorous diet.
Many resultant studies have concluded that vegan and vegetarian diets are better for human health. But does it hold true for expecting moms-to-be?
Research shows that consuming herbivorous edibles during pregnancy is a healthier option. Even though fruitarian diets are at the risk of being nutrient-deficient; with proper planning, a pregnant vegan can offset the nutrient deficit.
Vegan diets are good for the heart and prevent the occurrence of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and coronary heart disease.
By eating non-meaty food items, a pregnant woman doesn’t only improve her health but also creates a healthy environment for optimal fetal development.
The benefits of a vegan diet are numerous. From healthy fetal development to healthy aging of the baby, it offers all. However, there’s more to the story than just that.
Even though a fruitarian diet is excellent for the human body, it comes with an inadequate supply of some critical nutrients, such as vitamin B12 and iron.
Other micronutrients that a vegetarian diet lacks are vitamin D, omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids, calcium, iodine, and zinc.
The shortfall of the said nutrients can raise some health concerns. Plant-based diets contain less saturated fats, cholesterol, and animal protein which can lead to low bone mineral density.
Low mineral density in the bone can lead to osteoporosis and other bone-related issues.
However, the lack of animal-based nutrients can be balanced with additional supplements and other plant-based sources of insufficient nutrients. With the proper protocol, pregnant women can easily continue their vegan regimen.
During pregnancy, the body’s nutritional demand increases. To provide the developing fetus with the ideal quantity of nourishment, pregnant women take supplements.
Pregnant vegans may have to take a few more than a non-vegan, but it’s nothing to worry about.
Here is a list of proper supplements for a vegan mom-to-be.
Proper supplementation during pregnancy
During pregnancy, many women can fall prey to unreliable literature on how to stay healthy before delivery. And to avoid any unpleasant occurrences, women start following unsupported advice available on the internet.
While things such as cigarettes and alcohol are universally considered bad for pregnancy, all dietary supplements are given the status of ‘healthy pills for the baby’s growth.’
And that may not be true in some cases. Some supplements may not be suitable for expectant mothers.
Let’s go through all the available supplements for moms-to-be and evaluate their health benefits one by one.
Supplements that are considered safe during pregnancy
Even though some supplements are scientifically proven to be safe, but it is still advisable to consult your doctor before getting on any nutritional supplements.
Vitamins or mineral supplements are an excellent way of bridging the nutritional gap between the demand and supply of nutrients in the body.
Still, they are not a replacement for food. You must include them in your diet if there is a deficiency, but don’t expect them to be your sole source of nutrients. There is no replacement for natural nourishment attained from wholesome foods.
The healthiest and most widely used micronutrient supplements are:
Prenatal vitamins are the most frequently subscribed pregnancy supplements. They are designed to meet the increased bodily demand for micronutrients
They are to be consumed before conception and during pregnancy and lactation.
The intake of prenatal vitamins reduces the risk of premature birth and preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a common pregnancy complication that leads to high blood pressure in women along with high protein content in the urine.
They are used to supplement food intake during pregnancy, which fills the nutritional gap that occurs while carrying a child.
Typically, prenatal vitamins are enough to provide high-in-demand nutrients, but if the doctor advises otherwise, then a woman might have to take other supplements as well.
They are readily available at drugstores and can be purchased without a prescription from the doctor.
Iron is essential for the body as it ensures proper oxygen transportation in the body. A pregnant woman’s blood volume doubles during the baby-carrying months, which leads to an increased need for oxygen.
Therefore, the body’s iron requirement also increases to ensure an adequate supply of O2 in the body.
Most pregnant women take iron supplements to meet the increased iron demand of their body. In America, approximately 18% of pregnant women suffer from iron deficiency, and 5% of them are anemic.
Prolonged iron deficiency can lead to pre-term birth, infant anemia, and maternal depression.
The recommended intake of iron through supplements is 27mg/day. Higher amounts can lead to adverse side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, and excessively high hemoglobin levels.
Vitamin D is essential for healthy cell division, bone health, and immune function. A lack of this vital nutrient during pregnancy can lead to unexpected caesarian, premature birth, and gestational diabetes.
The widely believed daily requirement of vitamin d is 600 milligrams, but some experts believe that it’s much more than that for pregnant women.
Folate (folic acid) is a staple pregnancy supplement but vegan ladies may not require it. They can fulfill their folic acid needs with leafy vegetables and other plant-based food items.
Even though pregnant women consume the supplements mentioned above all around the world but even so, an expectant mother should first consult her doctor. Every pregnant body is different.
Some can have underlying conditions that might aggravate due to certain supplements. Hence, you must get your doctor’s approval before exposing your body to any supplements.
As long as you take health supplements and avoid precarious ones, then you can continue being vegan easily during pregnancy.
However, if you were on an omnivore diet pre-pregnancy, then you should not switch to veganism during pregnancy. Here’s why.
Why should you not go vegan from an omnivore diet during the pregnancy?
A vegan diet is good for the body. It can help you reduce weight and eat clean. But initially, the switch can be overwhelming for the body.
The lack of animal-based fats and protein can lead to constant tiredness. Your body will need time to recover from the new style of nutrient-consumption and deal with the deficit that comes with it.
However, a regular body can tackle the change with some effort, but a pregnant body might face some serious ramifications.
Since a vegan diet comes with a shortfall of certain micronutrients, it can lead to congenital disabilities in the baby. By the time the body recovers from the loss of nutrients and offsets the insufficiency, it might be too late for the fetus.
A fetus needs a balanced intake of nutrients in due time. If the baby doesn’t get the necessary nourishment within a certain amount of time, it can develop abnormalities.
For instance, a lack of folic acid can lead to congenital heart defects, which occur during the first trimester. Therefore, the window of balancing nutrient deficiency during pregnancy is too short.
And if that’s missed, the chance of a healthy pregnancy and baby is missed with it too. Your body must already be used-to fulfilling its dietary needs through plant-based products before a baby comes in the picture.
Concisely, if your body is busy getting acclimatized to an herbivore diet, it will not have the capacity to look after the needs of the baby.
Hence, it’s not desirable to go on a vegan regimen during pregnancy from an omnivore diet. But, you can have a healthy pregnancy while staying vegan.
Eating and staying healthy during pregnancy is vital. It’s not just crucial for the mother’s health but also for the healthy development of the fetus.
As long as an expectant mother takes the necessary measures to provide enrichment to the baby and herself, she can be on whichever diet she is inclined towards.
Nonetheless, a vegan diet may be a healthier option because it entails clean eating and lower levels of saturated fatty acids.
Consuming plant-based meals is good for the immune systems, and it enables digestion. Even though there are a plethora of benefits of vegan diets, you will come across cynics who will make you question your decision.
But if you are willing to go the extra mile to compensate any nutrient deficiencies brought about by vegan meals, then you are good to go.Last updated on: