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My Vegan Pregnancy

A Few Tips from a Vegan Mama to Be

One of the first things every expectant mother encounters upon announcing she is pregnant is not the symptoms, the sickness, the tiredness, the emotional highs and lows, the overwhelming feeling of change or the excessive weight gain… Nope, the first thing every mother gains upon announcing she is pregnant is everyone else opinion and advice.

Some helpful, most definitely not, and pretty much 99 percent of it, not asked for. For some reason everyone seemed very consumed in my diet. There are women out there that eat McDonalds every day, yet my vegan diet seemed to concern everyone.

So, for all of you that like to push your opinions on women about what they should or shouldn’t do, and those of you that are thinking of having a baby and aren’t sure if vegan-ism is right for you, I have broken down my vegan pregnancy for you:

My doctor applauded my diet.

I live in East London, a vegan food mecca, so my doctor has probably dealt with numerous vegans before. Some of the nurses I have seen throughout my pregnancy have also been vegan, good old Hackney. On my first appointment at six weeks pregnant, he asked about my diet. I told him I was vegan and he applauded my choice. He recommended what supplements I should take throughout my pregnancy (everyone takes supplements, not just vegans). He weighed me and took my blood pressure. He drew blood to check my levels of iron and my blood sugar. He told me that as long as my diet was varied and included all the things I needed, the vegan diet is actually one of the safest for my growing child.

My blood results were all great, my body was in great shape. I was in the best place, physically, I have ever been, so he encouraged my diet. If you want to go/stay vegan during your pregnancy, make sure you are eating a variety of vegan proteins like beans, nuts, tofu, seitan and soy products, as much fresh fruit and vegetables as you like. Make sure to wash them before eating and try eating organically where possible. Leafy greens like spinach and broccoli for iron, and enough carbs to keep you going. This is easy as most bread, pasta, and rice is all vegan.

Always use supplements & vitamins.

This goes for everyone. Vegan or not, you should really take vitamins and supplements before, during and after your pregnancy. I wasn’t on a pre-natal vitamin until I found out I was pregnant. I take an organic vegan pre-natal… This is different from say "Pregnacare," because it specifically looks at a vegan diet and supplements more of the things that are harder to get like vitamin B12.

I take an extra B12 pill, an extra vitamin D (this is great for babies developing bones) and I take an extra folic acid, even though as a vegan you will probably be eating a lot of folic acid containing foods anyway, Folic Acid helps prevents Spina Bifida and other birth defects and is a very important part of the diet.

I also have on hand 1000mg Vitamin C with rose hip just incase I start to feel a bit unwell. It is currently cold and flu season and there's not much medication you can take whilst pregnant, but Vitamin C with rose hip has been a life saver. 

Coconut oil and omega 3 oils are your friends.

I have a bottle of Omega 3 "Udos" oil that contains sunflower and flax oil. I throw it on pretty much all my salads, pastas and soups etc... You can also drop a bit in smoothies. Omega 3 is often found in oily fish and is good for baby brain development. I also use coconut oil for pretty much everything, cooking, my hair, my skin—rub it on your belly from day one to prevent stretch marks as much as possible, and toward the end even use it to massage your downstairs to reduce perineal tearing during birth. 

You don’t have to be perfect.

This is so important and my partner constantly reminds me of this. Before being pregnant I was SO strict with what I ate, and I still am. But, I’ve had a really rough pregnancy in terms of my sickness running all the way from week six through to the end. Yay. And I have to admit I have slipped up once or twice along the way, usually when I am feeling faint and there isn’t another option available. Being vegan isn’t about being perfect, it’s a movement and a lifestyle. I love being vegan, but if you mess up once or twice it is not the end of the world, especially when you are growing a human and your body and hormones are doing a billion different things you aren’t used to. Don’t beat yourself up.

Eat little and often.

This goes for every pregnant woman ever, and some advice I really should take. I am the queen of not eating until I feel like I’m going to faint or throw up because I’ve simply forgotten. Then I eat so much I regret it and get really bad indigestion. In the first trimester my sickness was SO bad. The thought of eating made me want to cry, I had to force myself to eat most days. As I get closer to my due date I have learned to always have a banana and some crisps handy at all times, just incase. You never know how long things might take, a doctors appointment, the line at the post office, a dog walk… make sure you have a snack handy. 

Water, Water, Water

I have been SO thirsty my entire pregnancy, even though I am drinking way more water than usual my body just seems to absorb it in seconds. My body temperature is so much higher and the baby needs you to stay hydrated or you could put him under stress. Try and always carry a refillable water bottle with you. You’ll thank me later.

Listen to your body.

So important. If your body says eat, you better eat. If your body says rest, you better rest. Now is not the time to be superwoman. I really tried to be superwoman, up until about week 24 and then it started to hit me hard My partner and family worried I was going to put myself under too much stress, so I started to slow down how much training and gym I was doing, I’ve stripped back most of my work and I’m trying to accept that actually maybe I need to just be lazy and stationary for a bit… This might be my last chance to ever do so, so why not enjoy it! 

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