Monday, January 28, 2013

Going Vegan Part 4: Vegan Pregnancy

I recently received a reader request. I love those! My reader/friend asked me to share a little bit about my journey into veganism. I am happy to oblige in a series of posts spread over the next week or so, leading up to an announcement in the vegan vein. Here is part 4 of my vegan journey:

When Eric and I announced my pregnancy to anyone one of the very first questions was always, "Are you going to raise your kids vegan?" I, of course, answered politely---but honestly that is a weird question to ask. Why would we raise our children contrary to our beliefs?! While we both know there will be tough times for our vegan kids we truly believe we are giving them a gift of compassion, responsibility and a lifetime of good health.

Well meaning folks would question whether or not our kids would have adequate nutrition while in utero and beyond. I would never ever ask a person that...even though there are bazillions (an exact number, I counted last night) of parents who live off of fast food and gallon jugs of diet coke. Do people question obese parents about the nutrition of their kids...? I'm just saying. I have no idea why vegans get a bad reputation for being unhealthy as I am at my healthiest as a vegan. I have never known unhealthy vegans, though I am sure they exist. Generally vegans are health minded folk.

Before I even became pregnant I researched the whole process. I looked into best and worst case scenarios. I contacted OBGYNs. I contacted pediatricians. I looked online. I contacted other vegan parents and bombarded them with questions. Ultimately I felt confident that we were making a great choice, but I wanted to leave no stone unturned. I wanted to be able to answer the questions that would surely follow.

Once I became pregnant there was a whole world of vegan confusion that I could not have foreseen; you just don't know what you are in for until you are right in the middle of it. First, I tried to find out if the pregnancy test was vegan. I contacted several companies, other vegans, doctors etc. I never found an answer--- though I am certain the origin of those tests were not vegan. What about the jelly for the ultrasound? What about everything that goes on during labor and delivery? Nobody seemed to know.

Other times I was able to take action. When my doctor announced that I should take a specific prenatal vitamin I was able to show him a few vegan prenatal vitamins and he agreed that my choices were totally fine. Ultimately I made choices that were best for me. Home delivery was not an option for me, so I knew that I'd be delivering in the hospital. Don't get me wrong, hospitals have saved my life on more than one occasion, but along with hospitals come the vegan unknown.  I am glad I chose to deliver in a hospital as I received some life saving meds (probably not vegan) during my first delivery. For me it was an exercise in letting go. I have no idea how vegan the medical side of my pregnancy was, in spite of my best efforts to figure it all out as I went along.

My pregnancy diet, for two pregnancies, was purely vegan. I ate a healthy and balanced diet, 3 meals a day plus a snack or two. I gave into a few vegan cravings.  Never once did I have non-vegan cravings. Through both pregnancies my doctor praised my health and the weight I gained (18 lbs 1st pregnancy and I didn't keep track with #2, my guess is 25-30lbs). My daughters were both born healthy and right at 7lbs.

A complication during my first delivery led to severe enough blood loss that I was anemic. I used a vegan diet to boost my iron count and quickly climbed out of anemia (which is super lame, fyi).

I used my vegan diet to safely return to my pre-pregnancy weight within 4-6 months for both girls.

If you have any specific questions you want to ask with regard to vegan pregnancy just leave me a comment and I'd be happy to answer to the best of my ability.


Anonymous said...

It's weird that people think you are jeopardizing your baby's health by eating a vegan diet... but they don't think of animal products as toxic although chemicals abound in both meat and dairy.
I don't think people are as harsh with "vegetarians" who drink dairy milk and eat dairy cheeses.

Emily said...

I think you made a very healthy choice for your pregnancies and for your daughters' diets. I hadn't thought about the harsh scrutiny you receive for being vegan vs. how people view those who eat an unhealthy nonvegan diet. I applaud your choice!

Sarah Purdy said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing - I've never even thought about all of the non-vegan complexities of a hospital stay.

Shane Palus said...

What I also think is funny is when someone asks me where I get my protein from. People don't realize that eating vegetables contain amino acids that are the building blocks for protein. Check out my post Benefits Of Wheat-Grass at

Kate said...

This post made my heart full. The friend I have who just went vegan for health reasons (!!!) as recommended by her doctor (!!!!) is hoping to have a baby soon. Ok, she wants a baby, I want her to have it soon. I am so disappointed, though, that I can't pin your posts. This is such an important series to me, and I know others' would find it just as important.

Kate said...

Deliveries led to blood transfusions for me, and I'm not vegan, I was vegetarian. Well, I wasn't vegan then. Vegan doesn't equal unhealthy or dangerous automatically, and I, too, get tired of the questions concerning my children's health due to a vegetarian diet; my babes were both born at almost 10 pounds, and they've developed beautifully since. Sorry for the multiple comments. i got excited and couldn't wait to finish your post before i commented the first time.

Susan said...

When you first told me you were thinking of going vegan I went to the dietitian of the hospital where I worked at the time. I asked him to help me tell you why you shouldn't do that (sorry...I was uninformed). He asked me why I would want to stop you as it was a very healthy lifestyle. So, I didn't.

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