Plant-based diets are becoming more and more popular as an increasing number of people discover the many benefits they can offer. New mums often worry they won’t be able to keep up a vegan or vegetarian diet whilst breastfeeding. It is a common concern that a plant-based or vegetarian diet won’t provide a newborn baby with the right nutrients to grow.
The truth is, as a new mum, you can breastfeed successfully on either a vegan or vegetarian diet, as long as you are getting enough key nutrients. Newborn babies need lots of vitamins and nutrients to help them grow healthily, and when you are breastfeeding the only way they can get these is from your milk.
If you are wondering which nutrients your baby needs to thrive, and what you could be missing from your vegan or vegetarian diet, then read on for our ultimate guide.
Does A Vegan Diet Affect Breast Milk?
A breastfeeding mother typically needs 450 to 500 extra calories every single day in order to help their babies grow. While all new mums need more calories, these don’t have to be completely protein-based or come from animal products.
Breast milk is created using a huge range of different parts of your own body. It includes stem cells, white blood cells, proteins, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, hormones, fat, antibodies, carbohydrates and water.
Mothers with a vegetarian and vegan diet will still produce healthy breast milk that isn’t lacking anything, as long as they are not lacking anything themselves. It is also important to remember that a plant-based diet will not lead to a low supply of milk compared with a regular diet. Vitamins and nutrients such as iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12 are all vital for a healthy milk supply, and vegan and vegetarian mothers need to ensure they are getting enough.
Tips For Breastfeeding On A Vegan Diet
Like any new mother that is breastfeeding, vegan and vegetarian mothers might need to adjust their diet slightly to promote healthy milk. This can ensure that your baby is getting everything it needs to grow healthily and happily. Here are a few handy tips for breastfeeding on a plant-based diet;
Boost Your Protein
It is a common misconception that anyone on a plant-based diet will be lacking protein because it is most commonly found in meat. There are plenty of vegan options that are packed full of protein. When you are breastfeeding, your body and your baby require extra protein. Choose protein-rich foods such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, nuts and seeds.
A Calcium-Rich Diet
Breastfeeding mothers need almost 80% more calcium than most other adults. Getting enough calcium on a vegan diet can be difficult without consuming dairy products. Look out for foods that are specifically calcium-rich like leafy greens or those that are calcium-fortified. It is also worthwhile taking supplements to help boost your calcium intake whilst breastfeeding.
Supplement Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is typically found in animal products, and so vegan mothers can struggle to get enough. A vitamin B12 deficiency can be bad for yourself and your baby, so it is always best to take a supplement whilst breastfeeding. Some vegan foods are fortified with vitamin B12, but even with these, getting enough can be a struggle, so it is important to check.
Iron And Zinc
Iron is vital for healthily bodily functions because it is used by red blood cells and helps carry oxygen around the body. Pregnant women need twice as much iron as a non-pregnant woman; however, a breastfeeding mother doesn’t need quite so much. Iron can be found in plant based foods such as whole grains, tofu, nuts and leafy greens.
Zinc is also essential to the body, and breastfeeding women need 12 milligrams a day to support themselves and their baby. Zinc from plants is not as easily absorbed as zinc from animal products, so a supplement could be worthwhile.
Get Enough Omega 3
Omega 3 Fatty Acids are a vital nutrient for a growing baby as they help with eye and brain development. These healthy fats are usually found in oily fish, milk and eggs, making them difficult to incorporate into a plant-based diet. Consider taking supplements to boost your Omega 3 intake and support your baby’s development.
Sometimes these nutrients can be hard to incorporate into a vegan or vegetarian diet in the right quantities. Taking supplements can help to ensure that you and your baby are getting the right nutrients and vitamins for healthy growth. Udo’s Oils and Greens are an effortless way to incorporate vegan omegas, iron, calcium, vitamin B12, zinc and more into your vegan or vegetarian diet.