Vegetarian Diet and Breastfeeding: What Should You Pay Attention to?
In recent years, as the concept of diet changes, more and more mothers choose a vegetarian diet. But if you are breast-feeding, can a vegan diet provide enough nutrition for your baby? What do you need to pay attention to?
When a woman is pregnant, it is important to pay close attention to breast-feeding after childbirth in order to know whether her baby has enough nutrition.
Learn all about vegan diet and breast feeding, and what extra nutrition you need.
The vegan diet and breast milk
Babies who grow up in vegan families, like all newborns, need breast milk for proper development.
You should supplement your breast milk with vitamin B12 if you are on a vegan diet. In this way, your baby receives all the nutrients he or she needs. Depending on the type of food the family eats, the baby may also need iodine.
If a mother who eats vegan foods doesn’t want to or can’t breastfeed, there are recipes with soy or hydrolyzed rice to feed the baby. Another option is to use baby food made from organic cow’s or goat’s milk.
According to the European Union Baby Food Directives, everyone has the necessary ingredients to feed your baby properly. This is why many vegan and vegetarian families choose this type of baby food.
As always, it is important to contact your doctor for professional guidelines and recommendations for your particular case.
What nutrition does vegetarianism easily lack?
If you are a vegan, you need to pay special attention to the following nutritional elements, especially during lactation.
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
If you don’t know how much to add or if you lack some nutrition, the best way is to consult a doctor.
Supplementary foods that should contain a vegan diet
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology stresses that you do not have to wait until a certain age to introduce peanuts, nuts and soybeans with complementary foods. Your child can start eating them from 6 to 7 months of age.
On the other hand, it is important to note that some foods are great substitutes. Find out what they are below.
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A vegan diet should contain legumes
Pulses are suitable as a main substitute for meat and fish in vegan or vegetarian diets. They contain a lot of protein, iron and zinc. This makes them one of the first foods you should give your baby. As a rule, you should offer them with vegetables.
Some of the best options for legumes are:
- The best legumes are peeled red lentils. They are low in fibre and easy to digest.
- Later you can add cooked chickpeas and tender peas, as well as other types of lentils. You can also give your baby unpeeled pulses.
If your baby is old enough to eat them, you can also offer him more solid food. For example, you can give your child hummus from chickpeas, boiled tofu, pea chips and lentil stew.
You can also give it peanut butter without sugar. The nut spread tastes very good on bananas, apples and bread. If you are an Ovo-Lacto vegetarian, you can also give your baby an omelette to eat every now and then.
For cereals we recommend whole grains. In general, cereals are produced with dextrinated grains. In these grains, complex carbohydrate chains are partially hydrolysed. In 20% or 30% of these products they are available in a very simple form, such as glucose.
Since breakfast cereals contain a lot of sugar, we do not recommend them for babies who eat meat and vegetables.
According to the Spanish Association of Pediatrics, you should introduce gluten when your baby is 6 months old. Therefore, introduce gluten when you start with other solid foods.
The best way to add them to your diet is to offer them as whole grain bread. Babies digest it partially and generally have little difficulty with it.
A vegetarian or vegan diet can be perfectly healthy. In addition, it can bring both short-term and long-term important health benefits.
What do experts say about vegan food?
According to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a vegan diet can be extremely healthy. However, only if an expert plans and monitors this type of diet. In fact, vegan food is good for all stages of life, including pregnancy, lactation and childhood in general.
Women who eat vegetarian or vegan foods are found to need sufficient vitamin B12 during pregnancy and lactation. This is because mothers who eat a vegan diet usually contain less docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
In summary, we can say that a vegan diet is generally healthy, but it is important that an expert monitors it. Because the right development of your baby depends on the right diet.