Pregnancy Nutrition (vegan)

I was a tad nervous when I told my OBGYN and the nurses at the hospital that I was vegan - I’ve done a ton of research and I know it’s healthy (the World Health Organization agrees!), but I still wasn’t sure how they would react.

At the end of our first appointment, the nurse started going over everything I couldn’t eat. She was going on about no deli meats, no soft cheeses, no hot dogs, etc. (everything that I didn’t eat anyway). I told her that I was vegan (just so we didn’t waste her time with the list of things that I wouldn’t eat anyway), and she said, “Oh great! This will be so easy for you. The only things you can’t have are unpasteurized juices and sprouts”. I asked her if there was anything I should watch nutritionally since I’m vegan, and she said she couldn’t think of anything, and it was actually better because I was likely eating more fruits and vegetables than the average person anyway. I was so happy!

The same thing happened about a month later when we met with the OBGYN for the first time. He was so unfazed and we didn’t even talk about it and further.

Even though my blood work came back great, I still wanted to make sure I was on track so I started using an app called Cronometer. I LOVE it, and I actually used it occasionally before I was pregnant. You can use it on your computer or phone, and it’s a nutrition calculator (rather than a calorie counter). I enter in what I eat every single day and I can track to see how I’m doing. I try to hit all the targets everyday, but I’m more concerned about the overall trend rather than the day-to-day. I normally hit between 90-100% of my targets every day which is great!

I noticed that even though the doctor didn’t have any concerns, my calcium was consistently lower than 100% for the day. This actually ended up being an easy fix - I just add a cup of almond milk to my green smoothies and I’m covered (most store-bought ones are fortified with calcium). I’m glad that I was tracking this, or else I wouldn’t have known!

Like any other pregnant woman, I’m taking a daily prenatal. There’s a ton on the market, but it felt important to me to get one that was natural and made with real food. I found one by MyKind Organics, that I really love. It’s made with ground up fruits and vegetables, so you’re getting everything that you need, but it’s from natural sources.They’re made from 30 organic whole foods (like blueberries, blackberries, green bell peppers, ginger, red cabbage, kale, etc.) They’re more expensive that other ones, but I decided it was right for me. (They have one that you can take three times a day, or once a day. I do the once a day ones!). You’re supposed to start taking a prenatal before you even get pregnant, so since it was a process for us to get pregnant I ended up taking them for more than 8 months before we even got pregnant haha. You’re supposed to take prenatals before conception, during pregnancy, and while you’re breast feeding so we got a bundle of them since I’m going to be taking them for a while! They are large, but I got used to them super quick. I also just noticed that it’s suggested you take them with food… I need have (I take it right before bed), and my stomach has been perfectly fine!

Even though the expression is “eating for two”, you’re actually only supposed to have an extra 300-350 calories per day. Between a green smoothie (the one that I add almond milk to), and the occasional toast (see below), I find I’m good! I’m not limiting my calories AT ALL, and I’m eating when I’m hungry and making sure that the majority of it is nutritious food.

I normally ate pretty healthy, so the only things I added to my diet (other than the prenatal) are ground chia and ground flax. They’re both high in Omega 3s, and I add a tablespoon of ground flax seed to my oatmeal every morning (once my oats are nearly done, I just add it in to the pot and mix it in. I don’t even notice that it’s there.)

If I have a snack, I’ll have toast with peanut butter and jam and mix in a tablespoon of ground chia seed to the jam (my trick is to spread the peanut butter on the toast, and then sprinkle on the chia seeds. Then I spoon on the jam and mix it around the toast so the chia seeds become part of the jam… I hope that makes sense haha).

I weirdly find it fun to enter in all my foods and to try to hit 100% of my nutrients every day… :)

Questions? Let me know! Later on, I’ll do more specific “what I eat in a day while pregnant” posts. If you’re interested in snippets of what Im eating in the meantime, I share a lot of that on my instagram :)

Getting Pregnant is HARD!

This seems like the most natural place to start my new “Motherhood” section of the blog, so here we go!

It was a little bit of a journey for me to get pregnant, and it was pretty reassuring to read other stories on the internet as I was going through it so I think it’s so important to add my story as well. Infertility is more common than people think, and it’s important to talk about it. I’ve read HUNDREDS of infertility posts, and I just want to put a reminder out there that people post on there when they’re trying to get pregnant… not many people go back and share their success stories. They’re just so glad to move on from that and on to the next stage. While it can be reassuring to know that other people are going through it too, you can also get stuck in a depressing hole of sad stories and it feels like there’s no hope. So if you’re going through infertility right now, remember that!!

My story is obviously going to be different than others, but hopefully this helps!

Ok, here we go. I have a hormonal imbalance so we always had a feeling that it would be a bit harder for me to get pregnant. My specific hormonal imbalance called PCOS, and while I don’t have all the symptoms, I still have it. I went on the pill to start my period and haven’t really ever had a “natural” period. Right after I got married, I went off the pill (we switched to condoms). We didn't want to get pregnant for another year, but I wanted to see where my body was at and what it was naturally doing. I tracked my periods on an app called “Clue” (highly recommend), and they were all over the place. On average my cycle was 38 days long, but sometimes I wouldn’t have a period for up to 86 days. I tracked it for 11 months before we were ready to start trying. We started trying for a baby on July 2nd of 2018 (how funny is it that I remember the exact day we decided we were ready haha). I had already been in contact with my family doctor who referred me to an endocrinologist who I saw back in January of 2018. She had told me that because I had PCOS, that if we tried for 3 months and didn’t get pregnant, that she would refer me to a fertility clinic. Normally you have to try for a full year before you can be referred, and it’s actually rare to get pregnant on your first try (the opposite of what health class teaches you haha). ANYWAY - because I knew that this likely wasn’t going to go smoothly, I was ALL OVER the fertility sites. Basal Body Temperature is something that sounds hippy dippy, but it’s actually not. You take your temperature every single morning at the exact same time (before you literally do anything - not even get up, or drink water), and it tracks your temperature. A woman’s body naturally rises when she’s ovulating, and then will decrease when she gets her period. You can’t use your BBT to help you get pregnant in that specific month (but the time your temperature has risen, it’s too late), BUT it’s very helpful to look for patterns when you track it month over month. I used one called “Femometer” that I got from Amazon, that was linked to an app and I found it extremely easy to use. If you think you want to start trying to get pregnant in the next year or so, I would highly suggest tracking your BBT now so you can get an idea of what your body is doing (it won’t work if you’re on the pill).

Ok - so after three months and nothing, we went to Mount Sinai Fertility Clinic. They’re amazing, and we had a great experience there. The first couple months are them doing tests on you and your partner. They won’t try to help you get pregnant until they know that your body is ready for a baby. This involves lots of blood work, some shots, transvaganial ultrasounds (not as bad as they seem), and lots of questions. I even printed out all my information from apps about my period and my BBT to show the doctor (#keener). He implied that I was extra, but that it was actually very helpful hahahah. My husband had his sperm tested and all was good there (which was a relief to know that we only had my hormonal imbalance to worry about!). My specific hormone imbalance meant that I had great eggs… they just weren’t releasing on their own all the time.

For the first couple months they started us with “timed intercourse”. That means that I would go in every other day for them to take my blood and do a transvaginal ultrasound (it’s honestly not bad, I promise. Not like a pap test - AT ALL). Once they were confident that I was going to ovulate soon, they would give us three dates and tell us exactly when to have sex (#romantic). This on it’s own wasn’t working, so then they moved on to the next step which was medication. I would still go in for the usual tests, but then they gave me a pill to take daily for 5 days (along with the timed intercourse) just before I was supposed to ovulate. This helped my eggs to release. It didn’t mean that I would necessarily get pregnant, it would just help to “level the playing field” so I had the same chance as anyone else. They start you on the lowest dose, because the higher they go the more likely your chance to have twins (or triplets!). The first month was not successful, but I actually wasn’t stressed about it. For the first time in this whole process I felt reassured that we were DOING something. So, I went through the process for a second month… and it happened!!!! We were NOT expecting it to happen with that low dose of medication and were obviously so so so so so happy! We ended up trying for about 8 months before it happened.
The clinic tells you not to take a pregnancy test, but instead I had to go get blood work. I must be the only person in the world who followed their instructions, because when the nurse called me she said, “did you know you’re pregnant?”, and I was like “Actually?!” and then burst into tears.

And there you have it. I’ll be 20 weeks pregnant on Monday, and it’s hard to believe that we’re halfway there already!