Tip of the Day
Your Vegetarian Pregnancy
A well-planned vegetarian diet can supply the nutrients and calories needed to support both mother and baby during pregnancy.
If you’re already a pro at vegetarian eating, adjusting your food choices for pregnancy and breast-feeding won’t require much effort, but keep these tips in mind:
- Keep tabs on your weight gain during pregnancy. For vegetarian and non-vegetarian women, pregnancy requires additional calories – the exact amount is different for every woman. Research shows that babies born to vegetarian moms are similar in birth weight to babies born to non-vegetarian women – as long as the mother is well-nourished during pregnancy.
- Consume enough high-quality protein from dairy, eggs and/or (if you are vegan) beans, grain products, seeds and nuts.
- During pregnancy and breast-feeding, your need for vitamin D is the same as before – but you still need enough to absorb calcium. If you’re lacto-vegetarian, drink milk fortified with vitamin D. If you’re a vegan, you may need a vitamin D supplement, especially if your exposure to sunlight is limited.
- Consume enough vitamin B12 from fortified foods like breakfast cereals or a supplement, since it is naturally found only in foods of animal origin. Not consuming enough vitamin B12 during pregnancy puts the baby at a greater risk for anemia and nerve damage.
- Most pregnant women – vegetarians and non-vegetarians – are advised to take an iron supplement. Consult with your doctor and a registered dietitian nutritionist.
For more information on eating right during pregnancy, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area and visit our Pregnancy page.
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Reviewed July 2013