Mothers and Babies

Viva!Health is continually receiving reports of poor medical advice in pregnancy, particularly from GPs – although fortunately they are getting less frequent. Often women are told they should eat some meat during their pregnancy. This poor advice possibly reflects the fact that most GPs receive almost no nutritional education throughout the whole of their training nor subsequently.

Fruits, wholegrains, vegetables and legumes provide all the nutrients necessary for a healthy pregnancy (124). In fact, vegetarian mothers, very importantly, have reduced levels of contaminants in their breast milk (125, 126). One of the most worrying of these is the residue from pesticides. The ADA has no doubts that vegetarian diets are suitable for every stage of the life cycle, including pregnancy and lactation. There is currently some concern that there may be a link between the proteins in cow’s milk and other dairy products and diabetes in the newborn baby. A review of the clinical evidence suggests that children with type 1 diabetes are more likely to have been breast fed for less than three months and to have been exposed to cow’s milk protein before four months of age (145).

All pregnant women and mothers should carefully watch their intake of iron and vitamin B12, increasing their intake of foods which contain them – particularly vegan women. It is vital for vegan mothers to eat a good supply of B12-fortified foods and if they don’t like those, to take vitamin B12 supplements. B12 is needed for the developing foetus and after giving birth, if mum breast feeds, the baby relies on her to supply B12 in her breast milk. (See page 15 and Viva!/Viva!Health Vegetarian and Vegan Mother & Baby Guide.)