Are there pros or cons of a vegetarian diet for pregnant mothers? Imagine what it would be like if expectant mothers don’t have morning sickness. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful feeling? Surely, there are several benefits of a vegetarian diet. However, it is a not all rosy, as going vegetarian can also have a serious impact on health.
We all know that dairy products provide essential nutrients to our bodies. These nutrients are vital for a pregnant woman since she is eating for two. Without further ado, let us look at some of the pros and cons of plant-based food for pregnant women.
The Pros of a Vegetarian Diet During Pregnancy
Table of Contents
- The Pros of a Vegetarian Diet During Pregnancy
- Cons of a Vegetarian Diet for a Pregnant Woman
- Minerals That You Should Include in Your Diet
1. Prevents Morning Sickness
There are many vegetarian diet benefits. Yup, you heard that right. First, it prevents morning sickness. According to two Cornell University evolutionary biologists, the leading cause of morning sickness is the body trying to protect the fetus from harmful toxins.
Did you know that most of these toxins are found in dairy products and meat? Your body will not have any reason to protect the fetus since there will be no threat.
2. Healthy Eating Habits
A vegetarian diet will help you eat healthily. Come to think of it, many dairy products contain cholesterol and saturated fats, which are a risk factor to your health. However, you can have a menu with more fiber, minerals, and vital micronutrients, which are found in abundance in vegetables.
Vegetables are rich in various nutrients, which are excellent immune boosters. This means that yours and your unborn baby’s health will not be at risk!
You can use the best slow cooker, to ensure that you cook your vegetarian diet to your liking while still preserving all the nutrients.
3. High Level of Energy
Another health benefit of a vegetarian diet is the energy that comes from eating diet-friendly food, it gives you to move around and do the things you enjoy. Nevertheless, the situation is usually very different for many women, especially during pregnancy. Sadly, you might be among those who feel exhausted and fatigued all the time. But there is some good news for you.
Prevents Swelling of the Feet and Back Pain Experienced During a Pregnancy
It is a fact that, in most cases, feet swell during pregnancy. Guess what, a large number of women say that that they have zero swellings when they are on a balanced vegetarian diet during pregnancy. Although you can live with swelling, it is indeed very uncomfortable as you cannot move freely as you would like to. Another good thing is that pregnant women on a vegetarian diet experience less back pains and muscle cramps, which are way too common during the third trimester.
4. Prevents Indigestion and Constipation
Constipation and indigestion are one more well-known problem for all moms-to-be. Since a vegetarian diet during pregnancy includes a lot of fruits and vegetables, the occurrence of constipation is eliminated because the food is rich in fiber, which helps in proper bowel movement and also it has low fat and calories.
Cons of a Vegetarian Diet for a Pregnant Woman
The main problem of plant nutrition comes when a pregnant lady does not know how to start a vegetarian diet. The unbalanced menu means that the body will lack some essential nutrients. This is not only harmful to the woman, but it can be detrimental to the unborn baby as well.
1. Birth Defects
The greatest risk of a woman eating a poor diet is that it might result in her giving birth to a child with deficiencies. The lack of vitamin B9 in the mother’s vegetarian diet causes paralysis to the child’s feet.
It is also a reason for the spinal cord and brain development complications. The B12 deficiency results in fatality because the fetus’s brain does not fully develop. Here is the kicker, the best sources of this vital vitamin are found in meat and animal products – eggs, milk and dairy products, poultry, and meats. Since a vegetarian diet mother does not consume these products, then the risk of delivering a child with congenital disabilities is very high.
However, you can still get B12 from fortified breakfast cereals.
2. Give Birth to Children With Heart Conditions
We are all aware that people start to experience heart problems later on in life. However, there is an exception to this rule! Some babies are born with heart defects. However, it does not mean that the reason for all the children born with such a problem is their mothers following a vegan diet. Nonetheless, pregnant women who are on plant-based nutrition are at a higher risk of giving birth to children with heart conditions.
Vitamin B2 and B3, commonly called riboflavin and niacin, respectively, are vital when it comes to preventing heart diseases in unborn children. Although B2 can be found in green leafy vegetables, liver, chicken, and fish are a rich source of both B2 and B3.
3. Omega 3 Deficiency
The only source of omega 3 fatty acids is fish. The importance of omega-three fatty acids cannot be overemphasized in the development of unborn children. Omega 3 greatly contributes to the cognitive and visual development of a fetus.
Therefore, if a mother does not get enough of it during her pregnancy due to a vegetarian diet, then the risk of giving birth to an underdeveloped child is significantly increased. The baby might also be born blind, and its fine motor skills might also be affected.
We have discussed in depth the disadvantages and benefits of vegetarian diet to a pregnant mother. You might want to stick to a vegetarian diet menu during your pregnancy, but you are afraid of giving birth to an underdeveloped baby or, worse still, to one that is brain-damaged or has a heart condition. So, what is the answer?
We are glad you asked! The solution is to come up with a vegetarian diet plan. In this way, you will ensure that your nutrition is balanced.
Minerals That You Should Include in Your Diet
Iron: To get this vital mineral in your vegetarian diet while pregnant, you should include a lot of leafy green vegetables and dried beans. Soybeans and lentils are an excellent choice.
Vitamin C: Fruits, especially oranges, are abundant in this vital mineral. Vitamin C is essential in helping the body absorb iron, which we know is an integral component of the red blood cells. Kale, guava, and citrus fruits are also a great source of vitamin C. Therefore, make sure that you incorporate them into your vegetarian diet.
Protein: There are many sources of protein found in non-dairy products and meat. Beans, tofu, peanut butter, and soy milk are of great importance to include in your vegetarian diet.
Other minerals that you will require are:
- calcium found in green leafy vegetables, oranges, and broccoli;
- folic acid — in dark green vegetables;
- zinc — in oatmeal, wheat, pumpkin seeds, and legumes.
Three Types of Vegetarian Diet That You Can Practice
You might decide to practice the keto, vegetarian Mediterranean diet or paleo diet.
So, what is the difference between the three? Well, the vegetarian keto diet includes eggs and dairy products, but for people with diabetes keto diet has some specific features. Still, they do not eat meat at all while the Mediterranean diet focuses on whole-grain and avoid dairy products altogether.
A paleo diet typically includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — foods that in the past could be obtained by hunting and gathering. A paleo diet limits foods that became common when farming emerged about 10,000 years ago. Source: mayoclinic.org
Get the Essential Minerals While on Vegetarian Diet
We have established that there are both pros and cons of a vegetarian diet to a pregnant woman.
Some of the health benefits of vegetarian diet include the absence of morning sickness, high levels of energy, and the lack of swollen feet. However, a vegetarian diet has another side of a coin. Your food might lack some essential minerals, which can be detrimental to your unborn child. Some possible complications of a mother following a vegan diet are the birth of an underdeveloped baby, heart issues, difficulty in walking and talking.
However, it is not all gloom and doom as you can have a balanced diet, which contains all the essential minerals. Since we know that this information is crucial, do not keep it to yourself, sharing is caring, discuss it with your friends and relatives.
Author bio: Carolyn Landis is a content writer, creative photographer, young mom of little princess Anna, and currently she is writing to her blog mykitchenadvisor. In addition to writing, Carolyn love travels with her family and a cute dog Larry, but despite this, their favorite place is home in San-Diego, California. Generally, she has already visited 12 countries and 31 cities, but this is only the beginning of their adventure!