The Ultimate Vegan Pregnancy Guide

The Ultimate Vegan Pregnancy Guide

Hey there, mama! If you’re embarking on the beautiful journey of vegan pregnancy and parenting, welcome to your safe space. Your no-judgement zone. I’m writing this vegan pregnancy guide in my 38th week of a fully plant-powered pregnancy, tapping away on the keyboard over my protruding belly. 

I wish I could tell you that having a vegan pregnancy will be easy—all smiles and roses with support and enthusiasm all around you—and it may be! If so, count yourself lucky. Because we’re talking about pregnancy here—and very few mamas, vegan or not, can get through the 9 month season without a scratch (or should I say, a stretch, a tear, and a big bout of nausea).

But if you’re going into this as a vegan, know that you may also face a few extra challenges along the way—challenges that are more likely to come from the people around you than from your body, baby, or pregnancy itself!

You may have already heard comments like…

“Congrats—but you’re not going to raise your kid vegan, are you?”

“Are you sure you’re getting enough protein?” 

“I heard that a vegan baby died from malnutrition.”

In terms of having a vegan pregnancy, physically speaking, I think it’s one of the best ways to go. I’m not a doctor (so please, consult yours). But I have done extensive research, because, of course, I want my baby to be as healthy as humanly possible. And I encourage you to do the same!

I imagine once you do you’ll come to the same conclusion I did—that choosing to have a plant-based pregnancy can be the best way to go, and can actually make pregnancy easier, healthier and happier all around.

Vegan Pregnancy Guide | WorldofVegan.com

What We’ll Cover In This Vegan Pregnancy Guide

In this guide we’ll dive into many aspects of vegan pregnancy—from resources, to nutrition, to what you need throughout pregnancy and as you prepare to step into the most important role of your life: mom. We’ll dive in to: 

  • Must-Read Vegan Pregnancy Books
  • Vegan Pregnancy Nutrition Resources
  • Vegan Prenatal Vitamins
  • Cloth Diapers & Other Conscious Diapering Options
  • Eco-Vegan Mama Belly & Body Care
  • Vegan Baby Gifts & Registry Must-Haves 
  • The Importance Of Embracing Imperfection
  • First Trimester Must-Haves
  • Second Trimester Must-Haves
  • Third Trimester Must-Haves
  • Preparing for Birth (Medicated vs. Unmedicated? Do You Need A Doula?)
  • To Circumcise or Not to Circumcise? 

…and more. 

I hope you find lots of value in this guide, and in the resources that we share within. It’s a wonderful time to be embarking on a plant-based pregnancy since you’re in the company of hundreds of thousands of other mamas who are doing the same.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to join the Vegan Pregnancy & Parenting group on Facebook. It’s a phenomenal resource and will ensure that even if you’re the only vegan momma you know, you’ll never feel alone. 

Must-Read Vegan Pregnancy Books

When you step into pregnancy for the first time—whether you’re vegan or not—reading as much as you can about what to expect and how to prepare is extraordinarily helpful.

As soon as I decided to start trying to have a baby, I ordered a half-a-dozen books on Amazon and started reading. I wanted to know everything I could ahead of time so I could plan, limit stress, and wouldn’t be caught off guard. 

Vegan Pregnancy & Parenting Books | WorldofVegan.com

My Top Recommended Reads:

 

Vegan Pregnancy Podcast Episode

In Episode 9 of the Plant-Powered People Podcast, vegan mama Josie Steiger shares her experience with a fully-vegan pregnancy as well as some tips as she steps into parenting as a vegan mom. 

Here are a few of my favorite podcasts for conscious pregnancy, birth and  parenting: 

Vegan Pregnancy Nutrition 

Just like with any pregnancy, it’s important to make sure you’re fueling your body (and your baby’s body) with proper nutrition and all the vitamins you both need to thrive. This is not something specific to vegan moms—keeping healthy eating habits and good nutrition in mind it’s relevant to all moms! 

If you’re unsure about whether a vegan diet can be healthful throughout pregnancy, breastfeeding, childhood, and beyond, consider this from the American Dietetic Association

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes. 

I am not a registered dietitian or a doctor, so instead of speaking to this directly, I’m going to share some of my favorite resources.

Of course, please always consult your doctor! If your OBGYN isn’t already at least familiar or comfortable with vegan nutrition, you might want to find one who is so they can be there to guide and support you throughout your pregnancy. 

That said, if you have any concerns or issues, I highly recommend consulting a registered dietitian who is well versed in vegan nutrition—specifically as it relates to pregnancy. As important as it is to consult your OBGYN, remember that most doctors are not trained nutrition experts, so their level of knowledge in that area is hit-or-miss. A registered dietitian can be much more helpful on the dietary front. 

There are also a couple books that cover vegan pregnancy nutrition that you may find helpful:

 

Vegan Prenatal Vitamins

When it comes to vegan prenatal vitamins, you have many options!

Vegan Prenatal Vitamins from Naturelo | World of Vegan

Cloth Diapering

Did you know that a single baby can go through more than 7,000 disposable diapers before they’re potty trained? Crazy, I know. Cloth diapering is a great alternative to disposable diapers, and can be an excellent option for eco-conscious and budget-conscious families. 

We take a deep dive into cloth diapering, why it’s awesome, and how to get started in our World of Vegan cloth diapering guide

I decided to cloth diaper for environmental sustainability reasons and loved the experience. I tried out many of the top brands of cloth diapers and share my favorites and everything I’ve learned in our guide.  

A Few Popular Cloth Diaper Brands: 

…and many more you can read about in our cloth diaper guide!

Cloth Diapers | Vegan Pregnancy | WorldofVegan.com

Eco-Mama’s Belly & Body Care

When it comes to caring for your body (especially your magical belly as it stretches to accommodate new life), there are a few things to keep in mind. First off, anything we put on our skin absorbs and goes into our bodies. That’s why it’s so important, especially when you’re pregnant, to choose products that are natural, non-toxic, and free from chemicals and carcinogens.  

Two other things to look for are products that are vegan (don’t contain animal products) and cruelty-free (not tested on animals). Luckily, these three criterial (natural, vegan, and cruelty-free) often go hand-in-hand, and where you find one, you usually find the other two. But not always! 

Many natural products contain things like beeswax, lanolin (which comes from sheep), milk or casein (milk proteins), and beyond. Below I’ve included some of my favorite vegan essentials that were my go-tos throughout pregnancy. 

Conscious Baby & Mama Brands  

  • Thrift stores, charity shops, and online re-use shops 
  • ThredUp (an online thrift store that has gently used baby and mama clothes)
  • Oliver & Rain 
  • Sakura Bloom (linen and bamboo ring slings) 
  • KeaBabies (lots of organic earth-friendly items)

Vegan Baby Gifts 

Vegan Kids Books | WorldofVegan.com

Vegan Diaper Bags

There are tons of vegan diaper bags out there—you’ll just want to look for options that are made without animal skins (leather) and animal fibers (like wool, silk, and wool-based felt). Here are three that I have explored in person and love! 

Perfectly Imperfect Vegan Pregnancy

It’s important to remember that being “perfect” is not the goal at any stage of life—but especially as you embark on being a parent.

This imperfection will likely start way before you even know you’re pregnant—at that early pregnancy test you’ve probably already taken. Whether you go for the fancy digital tests or the inexpensive paper strips, pregnancy tests are actually not vegan. They contain antibodies harvested from laboratory animals (usually mice or rabbits). 

World of Vegan Pregnancy Test Art | WorldofVegan.com

We’re not sharing this to cause any shame, guilt, or make you feel like you’re any less vegan in your pregnancy. Instead, let this be a reminder of the importance of doing our best without beating ourselves up; and realizing there are some things that are out of our control.

Also, it’s important to note that best answer isn’t always the vegan answer—life is more complicated than that. The sooner we all learn that, the better!

Some Non-Vegan Things You May Encounter Through Pregnancy

  • Pregnancy tests (Yes, I took one. More than one.)
  • Flu shots (Yes, I got one.)
  • Some vaccines (I haven’t researched this deeply, but I can only assume that some of the vaccines offered are not vegan. I will be getting most of the standard recommended vaccines for my baby.)
  • Your baby may grow up and decide not to be vegan (this is just a reminder that even if you strive to be perfect—which I hope you don’t—we only have so much control)

…you get the picture. Let go of perfection and weigh each decision to make the best one for you, your baby, your family, and the world. And remember: it’s not always going to be the vegan path that’s best for the world. 

Other Personal Favorites

These items aren’t specifically vegan, but they’re items I got and love. Sharing in case it’s helpful to you! 

First Trimester Vegan Pregnancy Update Video

In this video I share some of my top tips and vegan resources for thriving (or just surviving) in the first trimester of pregnancy. Hope it helps!

First Trimester Nausea Hacks

I’ve had an extremely easy pregnancy—except for the first trimester when I battled nonstop all-day, every-day nausea. It was awful, so I had to share my top tips for surviving the nausea. Luckily, like so many others have experienced, the nausea went away completely for me as soon as I hit the second trimester, and since then it’s been smooth sailing, and I’ve actually loved being pregnant! 

Vegan Nausea Survival Must-Haves: 

Second Trimester Vegan Pregnancy Update Video

Everyone says that the second trimester is the best—and I have to agree! It’s during this time that your adorable bump starts to show, and you become visibly pregnant. It’s also when most mamas get to feel the first little flutters and kicks from baby who is growing fast every day! And for most, it’s the period of high-energy (bye-bye first trimester exhaustion!), no nausea, and before the discomforts of growing a really, really big belly set in. 

For me, it was a period of massive productivity, and the nesting instincts kicked in hard core! We did all this and more:

  • Cleared out a room for the nursery
  • Painted (well, hubby painted—pregnant mamas, please stay away from pain fumes!)
  • Set up baby’s nursery (who wants a vegan nursery tour video?) 
  • Bought baby’s first outfits, cloth diapers, and beyond (I personally chose secondhand whenever possible). 
  • Set up our baby registry
  • Had a vegan baby shower (hosted by my dear friend Toni from Plant-Based on a Budget)  
  • Invested in maternity clothes that fit my growing body (pants, tops, maternity bras) 

Oh…and amidst all that, I wrote a cookbook (coming in October 2020)! If you’re going to get things done, second trimester is the time. I’ve been really lucky and have had an extremely pleasant and easy 3rd Trimester as well, but I know many mamas don’t get so lucky. So be ready to have to take a step back when you hit that stage 3! 

Third Trimester Vegan Pregnancy Update 

Reporting from 39 weeks pregnant…here we go! In this video I talk about 3rd trimester pregnancy essentials, my vegan baby shower, our doula experience, the circumcision decision, preparing for birth, and beyond. Now…back to nesting as we wait for this little guy to arrive!

Preparing For Birth 

When I first became pregnant, there was a lot I never considered in the “preparing for birth” department.  I thought: you make it through pregnancy, then have one rough day having the baby at the hospital (however he comes out), and then you move on to mama life with your new little one! 

But friends, I’ve learned a lot since that positive pregnancy test, after reading books, attending pregnancy and parenting classes, talking with countless other mamas. Here are some basics I’d recommend: 

  • Watch “The Business of Being Born” on Netflix. 
  • Decide whether you want an epidural! Consider the pros and cons of aiming for an unmedicated birth (I went in thinking I’d definitely get an epidural—why not? But now after learning more about childbirth, our bodies, and what’s best for both us and baby, I’m hoping for an unmedicated experience.)
  • Get a doula (if you can’t afford one, look for volunteer doula programs) 
  • Sign up for birthing classes through your hospital 
  • Decide whether you want to circumcise. More on this below…we flipped from wanting to circumcise to deciding not to after our research.
  • Select and meet your pediatrician. Most will schedule a meet-and-greet before baby is born.

One thing I was very surprised by is how little support I received from my OBGYN. I love my OBGYN, she’s an awesome doctor and fully supportive of my vegan pregnancy. But the reality is, office visits are usually between 5 minutes and 15 minutes, and there is a good chance she won’t be there for my delivery, because if she isn’t “On Call” then I’ll have another delivery doctor from her practice.

No big deal, but when you’re stepping into one of the most intense, scary, exciting, and  completely brand new experiences of your life, it can be extraordinarily helpful to have someone by your side who you know and trust. And someone who knows you and what you want from your labor and delivery and can advocate for that when you’re in too much pain to talk, let alone think clearly. That’s ultimately why we decided to get a doula (pretty late in the game), and I’m so grateful we did. 

To Circumcise or Not to Circumcise? 

So…you’re having a boy! Congratulations! You get the added fun of deciding whether or not you want to circumcise your little dude.

Now, I realize that this isn’t specifically a vegan topic. But I wanted to mention it nonetheless, because when my husband and I approached the subject, there was some debate and a lot we didn’t know, and I’m so glad that we dug into the research rather than just following our initial instinct. 

Our first thought was to circumcise. It seemed like the “normal” thing to do, the “clean” thing to do, and what everyone in the modern world was doing. Plus, I’m Jewish, so obviously I’ll circumcise my son, right?

Wrong. 

As any vegan knows, doing something just because “everyone else is doing it” is not a good enough reason. So hubby and I dug into the research.

We quickly discovered that everyone else isn’t doing it. Circumcision is relatively rare outside of the United States, and often more tied to religious tradition than anything else. And even within the US, especially on the West Coast, circumcision rates have been falling for decades and are approaching 50/50. Circumcision is falling out of fashion because medically, there doesn’t seem to be a good reason to perform surgery on you newborn’s completely natural parts. 

I turned to Evidence Based Birth (a great online resource), and they published this article reviewing the evidence and ethics of circumcision and that sealed the deal for us.

We decided not to circumcise. 

We also checked with our pediatrician who agreed that there is no significant medical reason to circumcise. So that was our choice. I’m not saying it’s the “right” choice or the “only” choice, but it is ours. 

I say that because I’ve witnessed a lot of heated emotional opinions on both sides of the topic, and a ton of judgement between parents about the “right” and “wrong” way to go about it. Especially on the internet. I hope that those of you reading this will at the very least remember that we’re all doing the best we can for our children with what we know. While it’s great to explore what other people are doing, please don’t judge others for their choices. Parenting is hard enough. 

Vegan Pregnancy Art Watercolor | WorldofVegan.com

More Vegan Parenting Resources:

Photos and artwork by Jeanne Ee Wei Yen, Lauren Alisse Photography, Michelle Cehn, Dan Miller, and Canva.com. This Vegan Pregnancy Guide is not sponsored by any of the brands or companies mentioned, and we only share products and companies we sincerely adore! This article does contain affiliate links, and shopping through these links supports World of Vegan. Thanks so much, and we’re wishing you all a happy, healthy pregnancy! 

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