Surviving a Super Active Vegan Pregnancy

I’m creeping up to 39 weeks. I say creeping because everyone knows that last month or so is TOUGH and there is very little sprinting other then to the bathroom. I have never made it through a pregnancy this long. Visit my Hudson Predicament page and you’ll get to read all of my baby adventures but to make the long story short, I had Pre Eclampsia, a placental abruption and severe HELLP with my first son who I delivered at 33 weeks. My second son made it to 37 weeks before things started getting challenging and my liver started to shut down. So here we are…almost 39 weeks with my healthiest pregnancy ever!

My doctor was very skeptical when I first told her that we were vegan. She isn’t as skeptical anymore. In fact, I may have changed her mind about the whole thing. On my last visit, this very skeptical doctor said “I don’t know why this pregnancy is going so well for you, you are literally my healthiest patient!” I’ve never been the healthiest before! Exciting! Most of the time, I’m the one they watch the closest so I don’t die before giving birth. So here is what I did to have a super healthy, insanely active vegan pregnancy (and this time without adding to my already numerous stretch marks!):

  1. Whole Foods even when I couldn’t stomach whole foods: This is not my advise for hyper-emesis moms whom I have known a great many and my best friend had 4 hyper emesis pregnancies. This is advise for the many moms who may have food aversions to “healthy” foods. I had a hard time with salads in my first trimester which is a staple in my diet but if it was leafy and green and I tried to eat it, it resurfaced. However! I found smoothies were a great way for my to get leafy greens in without throwing them up later (mostly). In my first trimester, I ate a lot more fruit and less veggies quite simply because I could not keep the veggies down. And thats ok. Find a good way to eat the healthy foods as you are able. Planning meals is one of the easiest ways to get what you need. I found being tired all the time (growing a human is hard work!) meal planning took all the guess work out of making food and ensured good nutrition
  2. Stay Active- This is not new information. Staying active through out the pregnancy (as your doctor allows) will keep the excess weight gain off, keep you limber and loose as well as many health benefits for the baby. I have a whole page dedicated to why you should be active which you can find under fitness. I was very active before I found out I was pregnant, running about 15-20kms per week, lifting weights and doing pilates as well as hiking, swimming and biking with my family. Nothing much changed during my first trimester but my fitness schedule did change through the second and third trimesters as my belly grew and my needs changed. Currently, I am doing walking/jogging about 15kms per week, indoor cycling (its winter here), and doing prenatal pilates. I found last week that I needed to drop the heavy weight sessions as my low back just could not handle the weight plus the weight of the baby. I typically have a daily calorie burn between 500-800 which is a lot.
  3. If You Burn More, Eat More- Being a whole foods vegan and not eating much in the way of fats, its already challenging to get in enough calories but adding in intense exercise on top? Yup you need to eat. Most often, I listened to my body and I have had days where I don’t stop eating and days where I eat normally but if it’s an intense day, I eat more. Some of the higher calorie foods that are vegan without dipping into processed foods are bananas, dates, avocado, nuts, nut butter, quinoa, and dried fruit. I also added in more protein then normal with an extra smoothie in the afternoon.
  4. Figuring Out Deficiencies- Around the second trimester I noticed that my energy levels did not resurface after the first as it had with the other two pregnancies. I would love to tell you that I have a perfect plan and all my nutritional needs were met but in the interest of learning and transparency, nope. I had some blood work done and found that like most expectant mothers, my iron was in my boots and it was causing heart palpitations among other issues. Knowledge is power so I took this knowledge and yes, started a massive dose supplement but also changed various elements in my diet to better facilitate the iron absorption. In closer examination of the evolving of my diet, it was lacking in B12 which is found in mushrooms and essential for the absorption of iron. I increased the amount of raw mushrooms I was eating as well as my intake of vitamin C and while things are not perfect yet, they have been improving so much. This also happened with my post workout recovery routine. I began having cramping in my legs and feet really badly. In discussion with my sister, the subject of potassium and magnesium replacement came up and sure enough, I was not refuelling adequately. I began refuelling with coconut water and adding in baked potatoes a few times per week and the cramping in my legs and feet went away almost immediately. What I am trying to say is that just because you may have missed something in your diet is no reason to just give up on the whole thing. When one tire blows on your car, you don’t shoot the other three, you repair the one.
  5. Find Other Support- People are still very skeptical about the vegan diet, especially considering that many have “tried” it and came out more unhealthy then when they went in (usually due to lack of planning and using processed foods to replace whole). Many of my friends, my doctor and even my mom suggested that maybe I should eat some meat just for this time but I was determined that if vegan was healthy without the baby, it would be healthy with the baby if I just planned and ate right. My very handsome husband had my back and defended my choice as well as encouraged healthy eating even when I didn’t feel like it. Then, I found some a new friend that was also vegan through her pregnancy. I found groups on the web that offered great advise. Turned out, I was right! While many of my other friends were exhausted all the time, barely pulling of a walk each day, I was running, lifting and snowshoeing like I had always done! Whole Foods, Plant Based is the way to go!

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