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.”
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.
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!