Vegetarians & Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is a fun and exciting time in many women’s lives. However early pregnancy can be a challenge for some. Especially vegetarians. Morning sickness, which should really be called all day sickness, plagues many women in the first three months of pregnancy. I was lucky to avoid morning sickness with my first pregnancy, but this one was challenging. Morning sickness is usually feelings of nausea for any part or all day sometimes accompanied by vomiting. For some women this morning sickness is so severe that no food or liquid can be ingested or stay down long enough for nutrition to be obtained. In these extreme cases it is best to consult your doctor or midwife.

For mild to moderate cases of morning sickness there are a few home remedies that seem to work for many women. As all pregnancies are different I would advise trying any or all of these until you find something that works for you. First I would advise that you make sure you have something in your belly at all times and never let yourself get too hungry as an empty stomach seems to aggravate morning sickness. Also make sure you have plenty of water. If drinking plain water is not agreeing with you then you can add a little squeeze of lemon as flavouring.
Speaking of lemon, sucking on a slice of lemon does wonders for some women’s nausea. You can slice up a lemon, place it in a little bag and keep it with you at all times. A few of my friends swore that by simply smelling lemon they felt better. Ginger is also a great anti nausea remedy. Ginger beer, crystallized ginger, ginger candy, ginger tea and even fresh ginger can alleviate morning sickness in some women. Peppermint also seems to work for some women. You could keep a hanky with some peppermint oil sprinkled on it to smell in case of emergency and also drink peppermint tea.

Nutrition is very important for women during pregnancy. Protein in particular is crucial to a healthy pregnancy. For vegetarians there are many great sources of protein. One of the best vegetarian protein sources is quinoa. Quinoa can be cooked and eaten much like rice. You could also make a salad out of quinoa by adding your favorite raw veggies to cooked and cooled quinoa. Nuts also contain protein as well as other great nutrients and are delicious toasted and sprinkled on a green salad. Many dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, cheese and paneer are full of protein. Lentils, dahls and beans are also great when combined with a grain to make a whole protein.

Iron is another essential nutrient for pregnant women particularly after the 20th week. Iron can be obtained either by taking a supplement or by eating more iron rich foods. Many grain brans are rich in protein especially rice bran. Soybeans, winged beans and white beans are particularly high in iron as are sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and many green vegetables.
During pregnancy, as well as at all other times, it is important to eat a good variety of foods in all colours, shapes and sizes. Remember that while you are pregnant you are not only supplying nutrition for your own body but also for a growing baby.

If you are new to vegetarianism and are pregnant, please discuss your diet with your midwife or doctor, and talk to long-time vegetarians, so you can have the information you need to have a healthy baby.

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