Tips for Vegetarian and Vegan Pregnancy

We had a great (and HOT) time in the sunshine last weekend meeting people at the 2013 Tampa Bay Veg Fest! Some of the Barefoot Family Folks are long-time vegetarians (almost 20 years now for Mary Catherine! Oldie!) and all of us recognize the benefits of eating lots of plants during pregnancy and beyond so it was really nice to connect with families who are living consciously and to have a chance to sample all the delicious fare from local vegetarian restaurants.

Our handouts on healthy eating for vegans and vegetarians during pregnancy got picked up quickly, so we thought we'd share the information here for anyone who is wondering if it's okay to stick with your animal-free diet while you're growing a tiny human. It totally is! We've got three healthy vegetarian Barefoot Kiddos between us to show for it!

10 Ways to Rock a Vegan or Vegetarian Pregnancy
Growing a Healthy Plant-Strong Baby!

1. If obtaining your vitamins and minerals from nutrient dense foods seems overwhelming at first, take a high quality whole-food based Prenatal Vitamin for folic acid, B12, Iron, and Vitamin D.

Raw veggie "tacos" at Leafy Greens Cafe in St. Petersburg

Raw veggie "tacos" at Leafy Greens Cafe in St. Petersburg

*We also recommend an infusion of Nettles to add Iron and necessary vitamins A,C,D,K, along with Calcium and Potassium.  

2. Boost your iron by combining iron-rich food sources with foods rich in Vitamin C. Enjoy beans, leafy greens, raisins, prunes, and blackstrap molasses with red peppers, strawberries, citrus, and sprouted grains. Cook tomato sauce in cast iron!

3. You can get all the protein you need from beans, tempeh, tofu, nuts, and whole grains.

4. Fiber from fruits & vegetables with lots of hydration will help keep you regular! Hydrate with fruits! The potassium in bananas helps hydrate your cells, and plain coconut water is a great quick fix for a depleted mama.

5. Fortified tofu, seaweed, figs, and dark leafy greens are good vegan sources of calcium.

6. Good plant sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids include hemp, algae, flaxseed oil, walnuts and leafy green vegetables.

7. Decrease your risk of listeria by avoiding meats and cheeses!

8. Nourish yourself well during labor and birth. Nuts, granola bars, fruit, and coconut water are excellent labor snacks. If you are birthing in a place that doesn’t allow you to eat in labor, you may want to look into a more supportive environment and care provider.

Ridiculously tall veggie burger at Ella's Folk Art Cafe in Tampa

Ridiculously tall veggie burger at Ella's Folk Art Cafe in Tampa

9. Prepare well for breastfeeding by taking a class and visiting your local La Leche League before birth. The best way to continue feeding your baby well is through your own milk.  As baby grows, read up on Baby Led Solids and making your own baby food.

10. Hire a midwife who will spend extensive time working with you prenatally to ensure your lifestyle and beliefs are respected while your baby receives the best nourishment you can provide. Work with a doula who will help you navigate your health care choices. Take a childbirth education class that will help reinforce your inner wisdom about birth.

AND...Can a vegetarian ingest their own placenta for postpartum healing? Isn’t it....an ORGAN?

It’s YOUR/baby’s organ my friend, no animals were harmed while your placenta was nourishing your baby with healthy vegetarian or vegan food. and it contains all your body’s hormones and vital nutrients to help boost postpartum mood, energy, and iron supply.

Also, check out vegan and vegetarian parent blogs for inspiration! We are fans of the blog Vegan Housewives and even more stoked that it's local to the Tampa Bay area and has reviews on restaurants where you can go get your veggie on. Mary Catherine is excited to start contributing monthly pregnancy and birth posts there too!

We love our families, both veggies and omnivores, and encourage everyone to listen to their own bodies' messages for guidance on what they need to feel healthy during pregnancy and parenthood.