Lots of people asked during my pregnancy whether I would continue being vegan. Many also asked what I will do when raising my little one. People have expressed a genuine interest in how my vegan pregnancy was and I was overwhelmed with the positive intrigue many had on the matter. I must honestly say I only experienced a couple of comments from over opinionated people on the topic of raising my child vegan. I feel like I have so much to say on both, so I will start by discussing my personal experience of a vegan pregnancy.
First and foremost, my vegan pregnancy was absolutely, perfectly healthy and magical! I have been vegan for almost four years and considering the multiple benefits I had been rewarded – I couldn’t see myself ever not being vegan. In fact I wish I had gone much much sooner in life. As I was feeling calmer, more energetic and healthier overall, I felt these benefits would be transferred to baby. I felt it was a no-brainer to continue this good vegan life throughout my pregnancy. I just couldn’t ever revert to my old ways. EVER.
Having experienced Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) for a number of years, we succumbed to the fact that we needed some support with conceiving. It was over a couple of years we had been trying with no results. We were totally surprised rocking up to an appointment at the fertility clinic for an invasive procedure only to be told that it can’t go ahead – because we were pregnant! It was totally out of context and caught us by surprise as we were there to seek support in conceiving. Further investigations and scans confirmed the pregnancy and the fact that my ovaries were no longer polycystic. I believe this was down to many vegan whole foods are of a low glycemic index which helps manage my PCOS. Ironically one of the symptoms of PCOS is a pot belly, so I had many years of people asking was I pregnant – it was amazing I could finally say yes!
Nutritional problems have never been an issue for me since going vegan. I have always been mindful of and interested in my own nutrition since going vegan. Like any pregnant Mumma, I gave careful consideration to my food and supplements during my vegan pregnancy. I maintained my vitamin B12 supplement which supports a healthy nervous system, while taking up the recommended folic acid supplement. In addition to this, I ensured I was eating a varied whole foods diet. Iron deficiency has never been an issue as many of the nuts, seeds, beans, pulses and greens are rich in iron. That’s not to say I didn’t eat other foods like vegan pizza and mayonnaise (I could have killed half a jar of veganaise with nachos). It’s all about balance after all and once your all tanked up on nutrients, that gives way for other treats.
A Vegan Pregnancy- My Experience
I fully believe maintaining veganism actually benefitted my pregnancy. No morning sickness. No real heartburn. Sleep was good. No weight gain, besides the usual baby bump! My vitamin and mineral levels were all normal, definitely not lacking in anything. I understand every pregnancy is different – and my next one could very well include all of the above. I do however believe veganism has contributed somewhat to a relatively easy pregnancy.
That’s not to say everything was plain sailing. The main issues in pregnancy I experienced were emotional and stress related. I was tearful at times with the odd mood swing and tiredness. that is to be expected with the rapid change of hormones and the growing of an actual human! Contributing To some of this to a high intensity job as a community mental health nurse and other general life stressors. Reflecting back on this period now and I barely even recall being hormonal, but it’s still very vivid for my other half. I think he might be traumatised! I love how my maternal instincts allows me to forget some of the rocky and painful bits which I feel is preparing me for baby number two!
My initial switch to veganism, I must say how it has massively benefited my mental health. Previously prone to stress, migraines and feeling a bit low and vacant. Veganism gave me a sense of clarity and serenity that I’ve never felt before. I believe there’s real value in you are what you eat. Veganism gave me more of a purpose and made food a thousand times more exciting!
And let’s face the realities of what is actually in meat and dairy. Ample amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, the hormone that causes stiffness and rigamortis when death sets in. Then whatever chemicals they use to make the corpse floppy again, antibiotics, blood, puss etc. I certainly did not want to feed my tiny growing baby these. What I chose instead is vibrant, alive, whole rainbow foods. There’s nothing more satisfying than a bursting, colourful fridge full of fruits and veggies after a market haul.
Pregnant women are advised to cut out so many foods due to risk of salmonella to baby. These include mayonnaise (contains raw egg), shell fish, raw fish, rare and bone cut meats, soft cheeses. Helpfully though, being vegan means you will not miss any of these because you don’t eat them anyways! The only thing I had to be careful of was beansprouts due to risk of listeria.
A New Beginning
After a whopping forty one weeks pregnant…
… we were blessed with the most special little boy on the 24th July 2017. Super chilled and a week late, our healthy vegan baby Arthur Bear landed earth side a whole 9.9lb. We were blown away by how big he was (no pun intended in relation to my vagina) and he is a real testament that vegans are not lacking, we are not weak, we are not wasting away! Instead we are pumped full of the plant goodness and absolutely thriving!
It’s also important to remember to trust your own motherly instinct. People are so quick to offer judgements and advise once you have a baby, so take what you please from this and remember Mumma knows best!
Looking forward to sharing more on what specific plant based foods were a favourite for me during my vegan pregnancy, postpartum and for breastfeeding. I am excited to share more with you about vegan parenting life.
Please do let me know if you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you
Disclaimer: this is not intended to be medical advice