"Won't your baby develop abnormally without meat?" "How can a vegetarian diet keep a pregnant woman full?" "Wouldn't that be considered malnutrition?" Those are some of the questions people may be asking you. You may also be concerned about this yourself once pregnant or as you move along in your pregnancy.
Whether you’ve always been a vegetarian or are choosing to become a vegetarian while pregnant, the health of doing so is an important factor. During one of my pregnancies, most meats would upset my stomach, so I mainly ate vegetarian meals. I studied many references, as well as learned a great deal about being a pregnant vegetarian from my ob-gyn.
Is a Vegetarian Diet Safe During Pregnancy?
The short answer is yes. However, keep in mind that it has to be done right in order to be healthy. As long as the diet is balanced, as far as nutrition, and includes all the essential vitamins and nutrients required for pregnancy, it should be safe for a pregnant woman.
There have been concerns about consuming too much soy while pregnant. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, a birth defect in male offspring, known as hypospadia, may occur more frequently when the mother consumes a large amount of soy during pregnancy. Be sure to check with your doctor to determine the right amount for a pregnant woman, and more specifically, your body.
Many pre-packaged vegetarian foods, such as imitation meat products and tofu contain or are made entirely of soy. Because of this, when you are trying to limit soy while pregnant, it is best to prepare your own food from scratch, rather than buy pre-made vegetarian foods.
Proper Nutrition for Pregnant Vegetarians
Each person is different, so it is essential to check with your doctor about your personal nutritional needs while pregnant and how to properly maintain a vegetarian diet during your pregnancy. Your ob-gyn or other qualified pregnancy specialist may also recommend a medical nutritionist. Some vitamins that are important during pregnancy include Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Vitamin D, and Vitamin A.
Vegetarian Weight Gain Concerns
It is often assumed that a pregnant woman cannot gain weight on a vegetarian diet That simply is not true, as long as the diet is a healthy and balanced one. If you are having trouble gaining weight while pregnant, it may or may not be related to your vegetarian diet. Always talk to your doctor throughout your pregnancy to ensure your diet is healthy for a pregnant woman, as well as to find the cause and solution for any weight issues you may have during the pregnancy.
Vegetarian Foods that are Filling
Some people have the false assumption that meat is the only food capable of creating a full stomach. That is not true. There are many foods that can be filling for a pregnant vegetarian. Foods do not have to contain meat to be filling. Here are just some of them.
Adapting Hospital Food to the Vegetarian Diet
Hospital meals are often centered around a diet that involves meat as the main course. If you are a pregnant vegetarian, you may want to check with the hospital before the delivery date. Even if the hospital does not have vegetarian options on their menu, they may still allow you to personalize your meal if you let them know your preferences in advance, while you are pregnant.
Some hospitals have pre-registration forms that you might fill out during the pregnancy. That is a good place to include personal preferences, such as diet and other health information. If you did not have time to check with the hospital while pregnant and you find yourself glancing at an all "meat-eaters" menu, talk to your nurse about your vegetarian diet. The nurse may be able to have the dietary staff prepare you a personalized meal, based on your vegetarian preference.
If not, the hospital cafeteria should have a few vegetarian options, such as salad, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, french fries, cheese pizza, etc. If not, you may need your partner, a family member, or a friend to bring you some food during your hospital stay.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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