Vegetarian Pregnancy Diet
What to Eat When You're Vegetarian and Expecting a Baby
By: kieransmom on: Fri 08 of Jun, 2007 [22:14 UTC] (4143 reads)
During a vegetarian pregnancy, it is crucial to be sure you get the various nutrients needed while expecting into your diet. I'm inspired to write this article because I am four weeks pregnant. Since I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian, today my doula/nurse/midwife friend counseled me on the phone about what I am eating every day.
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The first trimester is a crucial time, and so I am listening to everything that she has to say. I'm also doing my library and internet research about nutrition during pregnancy. I would like to share what I have learned with you, so that maybe I can help other people to eat healthy during their pregnancies!
Protein Sources for Vegetarian Pregnancy
Protein, protein, PROTEIN! My doula couldn't stress the importance of protein in a pregnancy diet any more. She is concerned because she knows that I don't eat meat, especially since I had a previous premature birth.
She told me that inadequate protein is an extremely common deficiency during pregnancy and is often to blame for pregnancy-related nausea. It can even contribute to the risk of premature birth. I had no idea that a pregnant woman is supposed to get at least 80 grams of protein every day. that is alot.
Some protein-rich foods are:
- cottage cheese (30 grams per 1/2 cup serving)
- lentil beans (30 grams per 1 cup serving)
- flounder (25 grams per serving)
- salmon is another great source of protein
- tuna is also high, with 24 grams, but of course you only want to hit tuna no more than once every two weeks because of the risk of mercury
- eggs are a GREAT source of protein, and my friend recommended that I eat eggs every day for breakfast. The cholesterol factor is not that major because my body is increasing its blood volume every day to support the pregnancy, and also the placenta is growing; these growths require protein and fats.
- Yogurt is another complete source of protein, with 5 grams per serving.
My friend told me that she just saw Protein Water out at Walmart, near the flavored waters. That water contains 15 grams of protein! Protein and calcium both prevent high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Some incomplete sources of protein (which you want to combine, as they are rich sources of amino acids) are:
- green peas
- brown rice
- peanut butter
- whole wheat bread
Calcium Sources During Vegetarian Pregnancy
Calcium is another very important requirement; a pregnant and lactating woman needs 1200 mg of calcium every day. If you don't get enough calcium, your fetus or nursling will start using the calcium from your bones.
Most prenatal supplements contain about 300 mg, so the majority has to come from your diet. Here are some calcium sources:
- ricotta cheese is rich in calcium, as a serving contains a whopping 669 mg of calcium
- other types of cheese and cows milk are great for calcium.
- I am really big on vegetable sources of calcium, like green leafy veggies, soy milk, carob and broccoli.
Vitamins C and D and exercise can help to absorb calcium. Iron can interfere with the body's absorption of calcium, so it's best to take the two at separate meals. Caffeine, alcohol, and too much protein can also inhibit the absorption of calcium.
Iron Sources During Vegetarian Pregnancy
An expectant mother needs 27 mg of iron daily. Iron helps the body increase blood volume. It also prevents fatigue and decreases the risk of premature birth and low birth weight.
Sources of iron include:
- My favorite source of iron is cream of wheat, but any fortified cereal will be good
- watermelon (yum!)
- dried apricot
- lima beans
- kidney beans
- black eyed peas
- cooked spinach
- whole wheat bread
- prune juice
- seaweed's a good source of iron (that's probably why I'm craving cucumber rolls!)
Animal sources of iron are easily absorbed. Vegetarian moms should take an iron supplement before and during pregnancy, but supplements can increase the discomfort from constipation (and you don't want to take too much, as too much iron is toxic!) so always consult a doctor before supplementing.
Vitamin C helps absorb iron, so an orange with an iron-rich meal is great. Zinc helps the body metabolize protein, so this is an important part of the pregnancy diet. You should get 15 mg of zinc per day. A bran muffin, a cup of cereal, a cup of legumes (garbanzo, kidney, soy beans) almonds, pumkin seeds, wheat germ, yogurt, tofu, cheddar cheese, and walnuts are all great sources of zinc. Just three oysters contain more than a day's requirements for zinc.
See page 2 for sources of Vitamins B6 and B12, Omega-3 Acids, Folate and Fiber