Being a Vegetarian During Pregnancy

healthy balanced diet

I am a vegetarian and I don’t eat fish, how can I make sure I get all the nutrients I need during pregnancy?

One of the most important things you can do whilst pregnant, especially if you’re a vegetarian, is to make sure you’re eating a good balance and variety of foods each day. During pregnancy eating a healthy diet is essential for mother and baby’s health. However on top of a healthy, well-balanced diet, during pregnancy you need to take some extra supplements too. The Department of Health in the UK recommends that all pregnant women take a supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D alongside 400 micrograms folic acid (for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy).

Avocado, pomegranate, beans and seeds with plenty of leafy greens. You can’t go wrong!

Taking a pregnancy multivitamin

If you’re concerned about your diet, it might be worth taking a pregnancy multivitamin which will contain the vitamin D and folic acid you need, alongside other nutrients that you may be low in such as iodine (from fish and dairy foods), iron and vitamin B6 and B12 (mainly from animal products). These nutrients are all more difficult to get on a vegetarian diet and so talking a multivitamin can be a safeguard against low stores or deficiencies. Make sure you’re only taking one multivitamin and avoid taking multivitamins that contain vitamin A, as this can be harmful to your baby.

On top of this, it’s a good idea to try and include a variety of foods into your diet that include folate, iron, protein and B vitamins. These include foods such as nuts and seeds, beans, lentils, pulses, fortified breakfast cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, tofu and soya.

Omega 3 from oily fish

If you’re worried about levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, due to the lack of fish in your diet, it’s a good idea to talk to your GP who might recommend a supplement such as ‘Pregnacare Plus’ (which does contain fish oils). Alternatively, you could try regularly including foods such as flaxseeds, soy and walnuts into your daily diet which are all a good plant source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Lastly, there is also an option of taking an algae omega-3 supplement during pregnancy which will provide the correct form of omega-3 that you would otherwise get from oily fish. This is the option that more and more pregnant women are choosing if they choose to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet.

To summarise:

Being a Vegetarian During Pregnancy just needs to be managed.

Eat a well balanced diet during pregnancy

Take a pregnancy multivitamin which contains iodine but NOT vitamin A

Check your intakes of Omega-3 fatty acids and think about also talking an algae omega-3 supplement if you’re worried you’re not getting enough.