Being a veggie and pregnant simply means that you are eating for two vegetarians. The only difference is that one of you is very small and thus additional servings should increase gradually as the baby grows. However, all know that vegetarian is one of the healthiest diets. But we also know that vegetarian can miss critical nutrients only found on animal foods. Therefore, for a vegetarian pregnancy, you need to take a number of precautions, especially on diet. You need to ensure that the baby is getting all the nutrition needed for their healthy growth and development.
There diets that you need to increase but in measured quantity for the good health of the baby. For example, the level of calories should be increased from the second trimester to provide enough carbohydrates. The trick is to choose the meals wisely.
These are major components of a healthy diet for vegetarian pregnancy:
Protein Rich Foods
Protein is essential for the growth and development of the baby’s tissue, cells, and muscles. That is why it is a key component in the diet of all pregnant women. The good news is that there are plenty of protein-rich vegetarian foods to pick from. Some of the best plant-based protein-dense foods include beans, lentils, quorn, soy products, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds and so on. Depending on the type of vegetarian you are, you can add well-cooked eggs and dairy products as they are a great source of protein. Fortified foods are also an excellent option.
Iron is another nutrient that should be increased during pregnancy. It plays an important role during pregnancy such as aiding in the development of the fetus, placenta as well as increasing the maternal blood volume. For a vegan diet, there are plenty of plant foods rich in iron.
They include whole and enriched grains, dark green vegetables, dried fruit, legumes, nuts and seeds, and blackstrap molasses. However, these foods should be taken together with Vitamin C since it increases the absorption of iron. Avoid taking iron rich foods together with dairy products. Dairy products decrease the absorption of this nutrient.
For the development of the baby’s bones, teeth, and cell, a lot of calcium is needed. Therefore, pregnant women must ensure their diet are high in calcium. For vegan pregnancy, there are plenty of plant-based foods rich in calcium to pick. Note that plant-based calcium is often superior dairy products. The best sources of calcium Tofu and soybeans, bok choy, broccoli, beans, figs, almond butter, sunflower seeds, tahini, calcium-fortified nondairy milk. Dark green leafy vegetables and calcium-fortified cereals and juices are also good for vegetarians.
Vitamin D is one of the essential prenatal vitamins for pregnant. Together with calcium, they are two nutrients that make a healthy diet for vegetarian pregnancy. Both nutrients are important for the development of the baby bones and teeth. You also need high levels of Vitamin D for your body to absorb maximum calcium. Though most people gets Vitamin D from the sun, it is important to eat food rich in vitamin D. Depending on the kind of vegetarian you are, you can take eggs and oily fish. However, Vitamin supplements are highly recommended for all pregnant women regardless of their diet.
Essential Fatty Acids
Another must-have nutrient for a healthy diet for vegetarian pregnancy are the fatty acids. The Alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA) is one of the essential fatty acids that all pregnant women regardless of the diet must take. ALA converts into omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) once in the body. For vegan pregnancy, there are plenty of plant-based foods rich in ALA. They include flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts, soybeans, canola and walnut oils. These plant-based foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other minerals, which are critical for the development of the baby.
Folate or folic acid is another nutrient that pregnant women must add to their diet and adequate amount. The mineral helps prevent neural tube defects which are likely to happen in the first week of the pregnancy. That is why it is important to get adequate amounts of this nutrient daily. For diet for vegetarian pregnancy, leafy green vegetables are great natural sources of folate. You can also get folic acid in legume as well as taking a folate supplement.
Vitamin and minerals are essential for the health of both the baby and the mother. Among the key Vitamins that all mothers must also include in their diet is the Vitamin B12 or cobalamin. It is an essential Vitamin that helps in the development of baby’s nerve, blood cells as well as helping in the making of the DNA or genetic material.
B12 also protects pregnant women from severe health conditions such as megaloblastic anemia. You can get B12 from fortified foods such as fortified cereals which comes with extra minerals and supplements. These vitamins are rare in plant-based foods. Therefore, fortified foods are the most recommended for diet for vegetarian pregnancy.
It may be a less mentioned but choline an essential nutrient for all pregnant mothers. Choline and DHA during pregnancy promote the development of the baby’s brain, liver and spinal cord amongst other organs. Studies have also shown that choline, much like folic acid, protects the newborn against neural tube defects.
For vegan pregnancy, among the plant-based foods rich in choline include legumes, potatoes, nuts, tofu, green vegetables, seeds, grains, and fruit. If you eat animal products, you can get plenty of choline in eggs and milk products.
These are key components that make a healthy diet for vegetarian pregnancy. The minerals and vitamins are crucial for the health of the mother as well as the development of the baby. Make sure that you have taken the right serving and safe food. For dietary supplements, your doctor should recommend the best products.