My husband and I are having a baby, and we are both over the moon about it! Ever since we started trying to get pregnant, I’d been steeling myself for the questions and concerns from my doctors about my vegan diet. I was ready for them to try to pressure me into drinking cow’s milk for calcium or eating red meat for iron. Now that I’m in the second trimester of my vegan pregnancy, I wanted to share some of my experiences and some of the advice from the nurses and doctors I’ve talked to.
Because of a childhood illness, my pregnancy is not as straightforward as I wished it could be. Home birth is out, and we are one of those couples that’s going to need our doctor in the delivery room. I am not interested in getting into the specifics of my medical history here, but because of my history, I have seen more than my share of doctors since conceiving, so I’ve had lots of chances to bring up my vegan diet and get reactions and advice. You know what shocked me?
Not a single nurse or doctor has batted an eye about my veganism.
In fact, my diet puts me ahead of the game in some respects. Our health plan includes phone consultations with an OB nurse, and in my first call with her, I told her that I was vegan. When the time came to talk about forbidden pregnancy foods, she took a long pause and said, “You know, since you’re vegan, you don’t eat any of these things anyway.” Forbidden foods for pregnant women include things like certain types of fish, unpasteurized dairy products, sushi, and cold cuts.
She did have a few pieces of dietary advice for me:
- Avoid pre-packaged unpasteurized juices. Just like unpasteurized cheese and dairy, your risk of contamination is higher. Fresh-squeezed juice is OK.
- Eat plenty of leafy greens. She recommended several servings a week of greens like kale, collards, Swiss chard, etc for calcium.
- Wash your produce well. This doesn’t just get off pesticides, but it can also remove pathogens.
That was pretty much it from her. When I’ve asked my doctors about my vegan pregnancy, they have all basically said, “Pshaw! Just eat lots of healthy food, don’t drink, and get a little bit of exercise every day!”
On the next page, let’s talk vegan prenatal vitamins and some dietary sources for nutrients that pregnant women need!