Planning a plant-based pregnancy and uncertain if your OBGYN is going to be on board? In the event that your care team questions your plant-based diet, we’ve got the answers you need.
If you’re considering a plant-based pregnancy, but are feeling a little nervous about how your care team is going to respond, you’re not alone.
Although we hope that you’re met with the support you need, the truth is that not everyone will be on board with, or understand, this choice. This could include your OBGYN, general physician, or midwife.
But there is good news.
You Can Have A Healthy Plant-Based Pregnancy
There is a TON of evidence-based, scientific research to stand behind your decision.
The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and the American Pediatric Association both agree that it is entirely feasible and appropriate to have a healthy, happy plant-based pregnancy.
And, of course, we completely support you too!
We know how frustrating it can be to have to defend your decision to someone you’d think would be up-to-date on the benefits of a plant-based pregnancy and support your choice.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. We had doctors try to (albeit kindly) remind us that we needed to make sure we were eating enough protein (insert forehead smack).
This is why we want you to have the information and confidence to tackle these questions and concerns from your doctor.
4 Common Questions About Nutrition In Plant-Based Pregnancy
Here are a few common questions/comments you may receive, and how to respond to them.
Q: How are you going to meet your protein needs?
A: Protein needs are increased by about 25 grams a day during pregnancy, and I plan to meet my increased needs by eating a diet rich in whole grains, nuts, legumes, and seeds.
Specifically, in addition to what I normally eat, I will include 1 extra glass of soy milk (8 grams), 1 ounce of almonds (6), ½ cup of lentils (9 grams), and a tablespoon of chia seeds (2.5 grams).
Q: I don’t want you to become anemic – are you going to be able to get enough iron?
A: While iron from plants is harder to absorb, bioavailability is increased by 4-6 times by eating iron-rich plant foods with a source of vitamin C.
So I plan to combine my beans, greens, and grains (all great sources of iron) with strawberries, bell pepper, and citrus (and tons of other vitamin-C rich produce).
I’ll also be taking a prenatal vitamin with the recommended daily allowance of iron just to ensure I’m covering my bases!
Q: You have a family/personal history of gestational diabetes and I’m afraid a plant-based diet will be too high in carbohydrates.
A: While I appreciate your concern about my health, studies show that plant-based women actually have lower rates of gestational diabetes (GDM).
Guidelines also suggest that women with GDM should maintain a sufficient carbohydrate intake ~175-250 g/day, which is a range I can easily meet on my plant-based diet.
Q: What are you going to do about fish? The FDA recommends all pregnant women eat two servings of oily, low-mercury fish per week to meet their needs for the fatty acid, DHA.
A: I will be taking an algae oil supplement, which contains biologically equivalent DHA. Fish get their DHA from eating algae, so essentially, I’m cutting out the middleman!
I’ll also be avoiding neurotoxins that could harm my baby like mercury and environmental contaminants.
We hope that your care team is receptive and supportive of your plant-based pregnancy, but it’s always good to have answers readily available should you ever need it.
We hope this information will help you feel confident talking to your providers about your diet.
Looking for more information on a healthy plant-based pregnancy? Check out our ebook, The Predominantly Plant-Based Pregnancy Guide!
Have you been asked other questions by your doctor? Tell us in the comments below!
Nicky Skinner says
Oh my goodness I just LOVE this post! Soooo helpful!
Kristina Todini, RDN says
Thanks for this post, because I had all of these same questions throughout my pregnancy from my OB and my NPs — even though I’m a registered dietitian myself. Specifically I was told by one nurse that it was necessary to include dairy in my diet and then proceeded to give me a pamphlet about getting enough calcium in pregnancy written by the Diary Council (ahem). So unfortunately there is still a lot of misinformation out there, and I’m happy you’re both doing the good work to spread the word about plant-based pregnancies and raising plant-based babies.
This is so on point and I wish I had it during my pregnancy. The biggest one I dealt with was my midwife trying to convince me at every appointment to include eggs because she was concerned about my protein and DHA even though I included all of the above in my diet and took DHA supplements. Although I made no changes to my diet and our baby and my pregnancy was as healthy as can be, next pregnancy I’ll be locked and loaded with these facts to not feel like I may need to change my diet. Thank you!
So glad to hear!