Your Guide to a Healthy Vegan Pregnancy — A Case For Plant Based
A healthy pregnancy is absolutely possible on a vegan diet! In fact, when I told my OBGYN (and other healthcare professionals in the practice) that I planned on continuing a plant based diet throughout my pregnancy, they all encouraged it. And, they all agreed that some of their healthiest pregnant patients follow a vegan diet. So, here’s your guide to a healthy vegan pregnancy (and what I’ve personally learned on my journey to motherhood.)
Please note: while I am a nurse, I am not your nurse. Every pregnancy is different and every person is unique. Always consult with your OBGYN, physician, and dietician before making any decisions for your pregnancy.
Diet and Nutrition
Eat a wide variety of whole plant based foods.
You may need to consult with a dietician who is familiar with vegan pregnancies. However, for the most part, if you eat a mostly WFPB diet and eat a wide variety of whole foods, you will usually get all of the nutrients that both you and baby need. In your diet, include a variety of various:
Also, if taking supplements or eating fortified foods, make sure vitamin D is from plant sources (D2) and not from animal sources (D3). That being said, the best way to get the vitamin D you need is through direct sun exposure daily.
We all know how important folate is, especially in early pregnancy. So, what are some plant based sources of folate?
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids aid in the development of the baby’s brain, nervous system, and eyes.
There are 3 forms of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA, and DHA. Plant based sources of omega-3s come from algae (such as nori, seaweed, or algae oil). In addition, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts are great plant based sources of ALA. Leafy green vegetables and beans also contain small amounts of omega-3s.
In pregnancy, the fluid volume in your body increases by 50% from the very beginning. So, make sure you are drinking plenty of water and getting enough fluids.
Vitamins and Supplements
Always consult with your OBGYN or doctor before taking any medications or supplements.
There are a number of vegan-friendly prenatal vitamins and supplements on the market, so discuss with your healthcare provider to see which is best for you.
Cardio, yoga, and light weight training are great exercises during pregnancy. And if you’re just trying to survive the first trimester, don’t worry about physical exercise until you’re feeling up for it. Just do what you can!
Routine blood work
Especially as a vegan, it’s important to routinely monitor blood work to ensure you are getting all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that both you and baby need.
Side effects of Pregnancy
- drink plenty of water (you’ll see this is the theme throughout!)
- eat small amounts of food more frequently
- go for a walk and get enough exercise
- herbal tea: anise, chamomile, fennel, ginger, lemon, peppermint
Exhaustion and Fatigue:
- eat a healthy, balanced diet and drink plenty of water
- get plenty of sleep at night (and if you need a nap, take a nap!)
- include enough protein and healthy fats in meals and snacks
- make sure you are drinking enough water
- get enough sleep
- eat smaller portions more frequently
- avoid spicy, acidic, and fried foods
- don’t eat for at least 3 hours before going to bed
- sleep semi-reclined with head and shoulders raised
Morning Sickness / Nausea:
- eat something bland (like crackers) right after waking up
- eat lighter foods and smaller portions
- try low-fat, high-carbohydrate foods (which are digested quicker)
- avoid triggers
- herbal tea: ginger, peppermint
- add a few drops of lemon to your drinking water
- try saltine crackers, plain rice or mashed potatoes, vegetable broth, anything ginger flavored, or vegan popsicles to ease the symptoms
- supplement with vitamin B6 (always discuss with your doctor first)
- drink more water
- cut down on salt intake
- eat fewer processed foods
- exercise and be active
- prop your feet up (make sure they are above the level of your heart)
Plan ahead for a healthy vegan pregnancy
Have a plan in place. But then be ready to throw all your plans out the window, because pregnancy is unpredictable. 🤷♀️
Be prepared to adapt with nausea, food aversions, and any other curveballs pregnancy throws your way. (For a control freak like me, this has been hard to accept!)
Sometimes pregnancy is simply a game of survival. Do the best you can and give yourself grace. It’s truly amazing what your body is going through!
Do the best you can
Pregnancy is hard, but it is also a truly miraculous thing. Sleep when you’re tired. Eat when you’re hungry. Cry when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Laugh when you have no tears left to cry. Ask for help when you need it. Do what you need to do for you and your baby. And give yourself grace. Your body is performing a truly wondrous act, and you are far stronger than you realize! ❤️
For even more about a vegan pregnancy, be sure to check out: