Vegetarian nutrition during pregnancy and breastfeeding
During your pregnancy and breastfeeding period, you basically eat the same as always, but a little more. If you ate responsible vegetarian nutrition in the past, you will continue to do so. You get a little more appetite, so you eat a little more. And during the breastfeeding period you also get more thirsty: regularly drink an extra glass of water, a cup of tea, or a small glass of fruit juice.
You do not have to avoid or eat certain foods during the breastfeeding period. A useful guideline is that while breastfeeding, you should continue to eat the same varied vegetarian diet as during pregnancy. Your baby will not be surprised when feeding, because in your belly he or she has already been introduced to your choice of certain foods.
You need extra vitamin D during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Take 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day, as this will keep your bones and those of your baby healthy. Include foods that naturally contain vitamin D. And go outside regularly. Being outside in the light of the sun, your skin makes vitamin D. After giving birth, it is important that your baby immediately gets enough vitamin D with breast milk.
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The longer and more strictly you eat vegetarian, the more likely it is that there is not enough vitamin B12 in your diet. Have that tested through your doctor, and add supplements if needed. It is important for your baby that he/she gets enough vitamin B12 in breast milk.
Too much vitamin A can be harmful to your baby; so make sure that you get no more than 3000 micrograms of vitamin A per day from your diet and any supplements combined.
Take 400 micrograms of folic acid from the time you want to get pregnant until eight weeks after conception, that is, until about 10 weeks after the first day of your last period. This lowers your baby’s risk of spina bifida.
You may also get questions about calcium. Don’t worry: You have a huge amount of calcium in your bones. Swallowing a high dose of extra artificial calcium may actually be more likely to have a negative impact on your calcium balance, according to recent research.
An important calcium source is sesame paste or tahini. Eating one or two sandwiches with sesame paste every day is good for your calcium supply. Also, if you occasionally drink cow’s milk or eat cheese, your calcium supply is optimal.
Enough iron is important for yourself and for your iron supply in breast milk after giving birth. With attention to your diet, your iron supply will be perfectly fine. The advantage of being pregnant is that you no longer menstruate, so you don’t lose any iron on that anymore. Also, if you’re breastfeeding, you’re not very likely to get your period right away again.
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