Pregnancy Considerations for Vegetarians
Any lifestyle choices that an expectant mother makes will affect her pregnancy. This is true in the areas of physical activity, emotional stability, and every other area of life. Obviously, the dietary choices that a person makes will affect her pregnancy just as each of these other things will.
The basic nutrients that a pregnant woman and her baby need do not change just because a woman does or does not choose to be a vegetarian. A pregnant woman who eats meats has the same nutritional needs that a pregnant woman who does not eat meats has. Still, it is true that vegetarians have certain nutritional advantages over non-vegetarians, in that they are more likely to get many of the vitamins that they need in their regular daily diets. On the other hand, non-vegetarians are more likely to have more protein, zinc, and iron than vegetarians. Regardless of your dietary or lifestyle choices, it is important to be aware of the affect that they will have on your pregnancy. Every woman, vegetarian or not, has nutritional needs that she needs to be aware of.
There are several areas of concern for vegetarians who become pregnant. Some of the biggest areas of concern are vitamin B12, zinc, iron and protein. This is true of non-pregnant vegetarians, as well. Vegetarians who are normally diligent about their diets will find that they will have to pay more attention to these nutrients during pregnancy. Another area of concern is Omega-3 fatty acids. For non-vegetarians, fish is the most common source of this nutrient. For vegetarians, there are several options, including walnuts, soy products, wheat germ, flax seeds, canola oil, and hempseed oil. Calcium will also be important for the vegetarian during pregnancy. Here again, many vegetarians are already aware of the general need for calcium, and consume foods like broccoli, sesame seeds, kale, fortified orange juice, soy milk and rice milk. Along with Calcium, vitamin D is necessary to aid with absorption of the calcium. Egg yolks or fortified soy and rice milks are again a good source of Vitamin D.
For vegetarians who are pregnant, there are some basic guidelines that can be helpful. Vegetarian moms-to-be should try to get somewhere around four servings each day of legumes, six to eleven servings a day of whole grains, four servings each day of foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D, and 8 to 10 servings each day of fruits and vegetables.
Being a vegetarian will affect your pregnancy, just as not being a vegetarian will affect your pregnancy. With a little bit of planning and thought, any woman, whether vegetarian or not, can make sure that her nutritional needs are met during pregnancy.
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