Mom's choice of what to eat is important both during pregnancy and after baby has arrived. But while everyone warns her of the perils of drinking or caving into her cravings while pregnant, some moms are surprised to find out just how important their diets are when it's time to breastfeed.
A vegan French couple recently found out the sad way. The lack of nutrients in mom's milk meant that their baby suffered from serious vitamin B12 deficiency and eventually died. While the deprivation seems to have been accidental, the couple are now being charged with neglect and could face time in prison.
While the story is alarming, maintaining your vegan lifestyle as a breastfeeding mom is still possible with careful thought about what should be part of your diet. Read on for what you need to know about some essential nutrients after the break.
- Vitamin B12. No vegetables are a good source of vitamin B12, so if you're not eating any animal products (which are rich in the vitamin) you need to find an alternative. Vitamin B12 deficiency is serious — it can lead to anemia, fatigue, and nerve damage — so dieticians recommend B12 shots or supplements as well as fortified foods (like nutritional yeast) to add to your diet, both while breastfeeding and beyond.
- Vitamin D. Nursing moms, no matter what their diet, are advised to give their babies vitamin D supplements and safely expose them to sunshine when they are old enough. Studies have found that many breastfed babies don't get enough vitamin D, which can lead to rickets, bone problems, heart disease, diabetes, and more.
- Calcium. Not into milk and cheese? Try eating more leafy greens like spinach or kale, tofu, or almonds to ensure you're getting enough of the nutrient while you nurse.
If you're a vegan mom, what other tips have you learned to make sure you and baby are happy and healthy?