It is important to nourish yourself and your baby with a wholesome diet when you are pregnant. Find out why it’s perfectly healthy to have a plant-based pregnancy. Plus other important things to keep in mind.
“As long as you are following a healthy, well balanced plan, thriving on a plant-based diet during pregnancy is 100% possible.”– T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutritional Studies
There is a common misconception out there that you must consume animal products in order to meet your nutrition requirements during pregnancy. This is simply not true!
In fact, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Plant-based diets are “appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy and lactation.”
As you encounter the different trimesters of pregnancy, your body does have different requirements, no matter what diet you are following. It is important to know how these requirements change so you can provide your baby with all the nutrients they need for growth and development.
Here’s a few things to be mindful of:
Consuming adequate calories can be difficult for many women during the first trimester due to symptoms of early pregnancy such as nausea, constipation, and fatigue.
Cold foods can make eating more tolerable, and eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day may be better than trying to make yourself eat 3 bigger meals.
You need an additional 340 calories per day starting in the second trimester.
You will gain about 60% of your total pregnancy weight during this trimester, and your baby is growing fast and starting to become active, so those additional calories are very important.
You need an additional 450 calories starting in the third trimester, and you are probably feeling like you are going to pop!
Heartburn may also set in at this time. (Antacids and I were good friends)
Eating smaller and more frequent meals can help with this, as well as staying upright after eating and drinking can make it more tolerable.
Healthy Food Choices for a Plant-Based Pregnancy
The absolute best thing you can do for your health and the health of your baby is to make sure you are eating nutritious foods and not harmful, empty calories. A easy rule-of-thumb is:
Eat a Variety of Colorful Foods
Baby needs a well balanced, colorful diet. To ensure that you are getting the most out of your diet make sure that you are eating a rainbow of foods. The colors of different foods will tell you what nutrients they are rich in.
Drink Lots of Water (Yes, Even More Than You Already Do)
We’re made up of 80% water so it’s only right to assume that you need to drink extra when growing a baby. Make sure that you are drinking around 8-10 8oz glasses of water everyday.
* Side note: Even after pregnancy, drinking lots of water will help you to produce a good supply of milk for your baby. So keep chuggin.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you should keep your daily caffeine consumption at 200 milligrams or less to be safe. One 8 oz cup of coffee contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine.
Getting enough high quality protein is vital for your health and the health of your baby.
Protein needs do not increase during the first trimester, but do increase to an additional 28 grams per day starting in the fourth month and continue at that number throughout the duration of your pregnancy.
Our article The 10 Most Important Nutrients for a Healthy Pregnancy will provide you with examples of foods that are high in protein, meal ideas, and how to calculate your exact daily protein requirements.
Take Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are not meant to replace nutritious foods, but rather as a supplement to an already well balanced diet. It will ensure that you and baby are getting all the important vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, folate, vitamin B12, zinc, vitamin D, iodine, and choline.
Check out our article (Most Important nutrients for a Healthy Plant-based Pregnancy) for a breakdown of the vital nutrients and how to make sure you are getting them
Gaining Gradual Weight is Normal
Weight gain is vital for the health of your baby. I am not going to include any “normal” numbers because A) it makes people think they are unhealthy if they are outside of those numbers and B) I know perfectly healthy women that gained 50-60 pounds during pregnancy.
Your body will gain weight, but that is important because it is needed to grow your baby.
Enjoy and Embrace This Magical Time
Pregnancy is an amazing time that goes by quickly when you look back at it. Don’t spend your time worrying and stressing about the little things. Make sure you are nourishing you and your baby and enjoy every minute of this wonderful time, even the morning sickness 😉