3 Essentials For A Healthy Plant-based Pregnancy
Pregnancy is such a precious time in your life. There’s so much excitement and overwhelm all at once. As a Plant-based Nutritional Therapist, I support you to feel confident in having a healthy plant-based pregnancy. A healthy, well-planned, plant-based pregnancy is attainable once you know what supplements to take and essential nutrients to focus on.
The 3 essentials are:
Knowing the most important nutrients to take before, during & after pregnancy is essential so that you have a solid foundation for growing your baby. This ensures peace of mind for you and your partner too.
Your body uses iron to make haemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen to where it’s needed. During pregnancy, you need double the amount of iron. Your body needs this iron to make more haemoglobin (blood) to supply oxygen to your baby. Low iron can lead to pregnancy complications as well as developing anaemia, i.e. iron deficiency, leaving you feeling very fatigued.
Examples of iron-rich foods are:
Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron. Pairing iron-rich foods with citrus, kiwi, leafy greens & berries will assist absorption.
Iodine is so important for pregnancy. Symptoms of iodine deficiency are – fatigue, weight gain, lack of concentration, an underactive thyroid, struggles with fertility, dry skin/hair loss.
Iodine is needed for your baby’s brain development and intellectual ability. The best plant-based source is seaweed. There’s plenty of organic seaweed options in Ireland – we’re so lucky!
The safest seaweeds during pregnancy are…
Adding 1 teaspoon 3-4 times a week to your dinner is ideal!
✨ Tip ✨ – seaweed flakes are the best. If you’re new to seaweed I highly recommend starting with the flakes because they’re easy to hide in any meal.
During pregnancy, it’s important to ensure you’re getting enough protein. It’s crucial for your baby’s growth. Adequate protein intake supports your body as well as your baby’s muscle, bone and organ growth.
Focus on foods like:
These are also a great source of iron.
Calcium and Folate
Folate is important for you and your growing baby, especially during the first trimester. Folate deficiency has been linked with an increased risk of neural tube defects and low birth weight. Low folate intake may also cause your child to become more prone to infections later in life.
Folate rich foods include:
You and your baby need calcium for strong bones and teeth. Calcium helps your circulatory, muscular and nervous systems to run normally.
Vitamin A, D, Zinc, Healthy fats & B12 are also essential.
It can be overwhelming when you learn that there’s a lot of nutrients to focus on before, during & after pregnancy so I make it easy and clear with my clients by providing recipes with all the essential nutrients and tips on what foods to snack on so that you’re getting a balanced variety of nutrients.
Your mind-set is key so you can enjoy this precious time in your life without having to deal with overwhelm, worry and fear about whether you’re getting enough nutrients or doing all the things needed to prepare for your baby’s arrival.
It’s so important to ask for help, to know that it’s ok to let go of ‘doing everything right’ and to have tools for coping with the emotions that come up throughout your pregnancy journey. Mindset coaching is a big aspect that I focus on with my clients as feelings of ‘mom-guilt’, worry and panic about the unknown can be crippling before, during & after pregnancy.
It’s easy to fall into habits that leave us feeling tired, unmotivated and overwhelmed. Creating small, lasting changes to reframe your routine are key in you laying the foundation to have a healthy plant-based pregnancy where you’ll feel prepared, supported and relaxed about the transition into your 4th trimester (the 40 days after birth).
Habit stacking has shown great results with my clients. Some examples of this are;
– Doing a 15-minute walk 4 days a week instead of committing to 1 hour a day
– Doing 10 minutes of yoga twice a week
– Using frozen veg twice a week in meals
Small, manageable changes can have a huge impact on your health and the most important outcome is that you haven’t overcommitted which can lead to negative self-talk and shaming yourself for struggling to stick to a new habit.
Rachel is certified as a Nutritional Therapist from The Institute of Health Sciences Ireland. Her passion for whole food plant-based nutrition & pregnancy led her to focus on taking the fear out of having a healthy plant-based pregnancy. With many years of experience in Irish Health Stores, Rachel’s seen how making daily tweaks to your food and lifestyle habits can have a huge impact on your health. She is heavily focused on supporting mindset and empowering you to reframe how you think about yourself. You’ll find her on Instagram @huban_health and www.hubanhealth.com