Does a vegan diet help with morning sickness?

November 29, 2009

In today’s column, we reached way back to uncover some of the issues in the very early stages of child rearing. Like, pre-birth. The baby-making phase, if you will. OK, not that early, you gutter-minded people: we’re talking morning sickness.

Does a vegan diet make morning sickness easier? How should I know? I’m a guy with no kids! But I’ve got a secret weapon: the Council of Vegan Moms. (Cue the montage music!) The Council of Vegan Moms are people, possibly just like you, who follow a plant based diet and do the same for their children. Here’s some of their feedback.

“…if being vegan makes morning sickness less horrible, then I really and truly never want to try a non-vegan pregnancy!”

That’s just some of what Julie had to say, and she’s in the middle of her second pregnancy. Interestingly, the second time has been rougher than the first! In round one, the nausea “lifted like clock work” after the first trimester. Round two didn’t go over as well, but five months in she figures she’s through the worst of it.

To make things easier, Julie found that sucking on hard candies and sipping hot tea helped settle her stomach a bit, as did eating in general, which she thinks explains why so much of her total pregnancy weight was gained in the first trimester each time!

“…a vegan pregnancy and giving up the remaining nasties in my diet made me feel the best I have in as long as I can remember.

Steph had almost the exact opposite experience, and didn’t have any morning sickness at all! While she was more tired than usual during the first trimester, a nap before dinner was all she needed to take care of that. She also cut out caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and booze, which had the added benefit of eliminating the migraines she used to have.

Steph points out that she does know some omnivore friends who didn’t have morning sickness either, so she might have just gotten lucky. Personally, I’d look into moving to her town during the first trimester, just in case there’s something in the water there.

Everyone told me they were jealous of how healthy I was!

From the sounds of things, Sarah got off pretty easy with her pregnancy, but she might have paid close attention to her foods and adjusted as needed. She only felt sick one time, and found that chamomile tea helped things pass. Eating less greasy foods in the evening seemed to make the mornings easier as well. For breakfast, Sarah usually had Nature’s Path cereal, oatmeal, or a Luna bar, and she credits the easier digestability of vegan foods with some of her success getting through things with minimal nausea.

Morning sickness, or more accurately, all day every day sickness…

Kerri’s experience was a bit of a surprise to her: from what friends had told her, she thought morning sickness would “go a little something like this – get up, puke, eat a few crackers, go on my merry way.” Things didn’t quite work out that way…

Things got into high gear at week 6, when Kerri woke up one morning feeling like she had a stomach flu, which was almost exciting – this was “proof” that something was happening! Of course, one morning’s events can be a lot more fun, if that’s the right word, than ten weeks of constant nausea!

The only thing that helped a little were ginger chews from Whole Foods, which were basically ginger flavoured sugar, but hey, if it works… At the same time, her eating habits underwent massive chages. In the beginning, all she wanted to eat were oranges, bagels (the more white flour, the better!) along with avocado, basil and tomato sandwiches.

And then, almost as abruptly as the nausea kicked in, well, it kept going, but her cravings took a hard left turn, and not towards what nutritionalists would consider for the better… As she puts it, “I couldn’t even look at a fruit or vegetable, or bagel for that matter, without turning green. Suddenly, all I could think about was junk food. Greasy, disgusting, artery clogging fast food. Once a healthy, whole grain and salad lovin’ vegan, I suddenly became a junk food craving lunatic.”

Fast food became the order of the day. While she wanted to eat as healthily as possible, Kerri had to go with what her body was constantly craving, and at least try to do it as healthfully as possible (and vegan!) The worst of it was that she couldn’t even “enjoy” a ten week fast food binge – after a few bites, the craving would disappear, and then the nausea would return.

Thankfully, at around the 16 week mark her cravings turned back to greens, grains and fruit, and she was able to stick to eating, as she puts it, “extraordinarily well.”

I’ll let her finish off her story in here own words: “Oddly enough, the day before I was due I had a craving for Taco Bell again. I decided to indulge since I hadn’t in so long. That ended up being the last meal I ate before my baby girl was born.”

The verdict

So does a vegan diet really help with morning sickness? It’s really hard to tell, with experiences varying so much from person to person and even pregnancy to pregnancy. Even the theory of easy to digest vegan foods being preferable was put to the test, contrasting Kerri’s and Sarah’s stories.

If nothing else, as Julie pointed out it certainly helps that as a vegan, moms-to-be don’t have to worry about cutting out any of the “forbidden” foods that health professionals recommend avoiding, which means that on the occasions where the nausea lets up enough to eat something, you can have pretty much anything that appeals to you.

What about you?

How was morning sickness for you? Do you think it was easier as a vegan? Was there a trick that really helped for you? Let us know and we’ll share it with the rest of the world.

Thanks, Moms!

As noted, this article couldn’t have been possible without the incredible feedback from the Council of Vegan Moms. Without them, I would have probably just sat around drinking beer and writing puke jokes (which I might still do, but I hope this is more constructive.)

A huge thank you to all the moms who shared their stories, some of which didn’t get included here but served as helpful background information: Julie, Sarah, Steph, Kerri, Sylvia, Angela, Jennifer, Teresa, and Gina, thanks so much!

If you’d like to join the Council of Vegan Moms, or the Council of Vegan Dads, or the Council of Vegan Children Who Have To Explain Everything To Their Parents, please get in touch! As you can see, all you have to do is share some of your stories around whatever topic we think up.

Similarly, if you’re facing a challenge with your family, let us know if you’d like to see it as a topic for a future installment of SpawnBetter!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Meredith January 12, 2010 at 7:48 am

I didn't end up responding to this question at the time because I was busy and forgot. My morning sickness was all-day-every-day sickness until about 6 months into the pregnancy. I couldn't keep anything down, lost weight, and felt awful. I did find one thing that helped, and I wish I had found it sooner: http://www.nutraceutical.com/search/view_produc… Solaray Baby Me Now Morning Ease capsules. I highly recommend these to any vegan mom-to-be who is having serious morning sickness. Eating a high-protein food first thing in the morning & munching on ginger throughout the day also helped some, but Morning Ease worked like a miracle pill for me & finally let me start recouping the lost weight and nutrition.

jasondoucette January 12, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Thanks Meredith! There are a huge range of responses to pregnancy, as we've just seen, so I'm sure there are a lot of moms-to-be out there who will be wanting to check that out!

jendiggity January 28, 2010 at 12:06 am

I'm in my second trimester now and am really glad to have found this site! I didn't have any morning sickness, but did feel a little more sensitive to motion (specifically being a passenger on windy roads). My husband and I were wondering if m healthier diet had anything to do with my luck. So far I have only had one very strong craving and that was for a fried chickenish sandwich from Veggie Grill in Irvine, CA. Since I don't live near there anymore I had to create my own version. I use Westsoy's packaged seitan sliced into bite sized chunks then dipped in soy buttermilk (1 tsp vinegar to one cup soy milk) and dredged TWICE in seasoned flour. I rarely break out the deep fryer, but in this case the desire was too strong (and as long as it was out I did potato wedges dredged in flour, too). Those delectably crunchy pieces of seitan on a good French roll squashed that craving HARD and I've been happy to stick to a healthier diet ever since.

jasondoucette January 28, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Hi Jen, thanks for the comment on the post about morning sickness! It's funny, my partner Angela and I were discussing cravings last night – she's in a similar situation to you (second trimester and no real sickness,) but everyone's asking her about cravings! She hasn't had any yet, but I'll send your comment over to her to let her know it's OK – especially if it nets me some mock chicken sandwiches 🙂

If there's anything you've got questions about that the Council of Vegan Parents might be able to help with, please let me know!

jasondoucette January 28, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Hi Jen, thanks for the comment on the post about morning sickness! It's funny, my partner Angela and I were discussing cravings last night – she's in a similar situation to you (second trimester and no real sickness,) but everyone's asking her about cravings! She hasn't had any yet, but I'll send your comment over to her to let her know it's OK – especially if it nets me some mock chicken sandwiches 🙂

If there's anything you've got questions about that the Council of Vegan Parents might be able to help with, please let me know!

Tracey March 22, 2012 at 5:39 pm

I’m 7 weeks into my second pregnancy (first vegan one) and I am sicker than I have been in my life. Whether it is a result of my lifestyle or not remains to be seen but I have had non vegan cravings, not that I’m giving into them though…lol

I’m using those sea sickness bracelets and they seem to be helping.

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