Pregnancy Q&A #2

Continuing where I left off in the previous Q&A post

The most popular question I’ve gotten is regarding nutrition during pregnancy and dealing with opinionated family members.

Is your family questioning you about your pregnancy nutrition? I’m asking because my husband and I are going to starting trying soon, and my Dad is already telling me that I “really need” to eat meat while pregnant…not sure how to handle that one!

and

My husband and I are trying to get pregnant and I’m dealing with family/friends who think it’s okay to ask personal questions! I’ve been a vegetarian for 16 years and some of them insinuate that I’m selfish for eating a vegetarian diet while pregnant and that I will harm our baby. If you have dealt with that, can you address how you politely tell people to mind their business when it comes to diet choices while pregnant?

My immediate family knows me and knows I’m a responsible hippie.  I haven’t gotten any comments from them.  If anything my mom has been really helpful in reassuring me that I’m doing a great job (reminding me that I eat better than 95% of most people – pregnant or not).  There are people who drink alcohol and frequent McDonald’s and still have healthy babies, so let’s get some perspective here.

It’s other family members and co-workers (and even random people) who seem to want to offer tips about what I should or shouldn’t be doing.  Apparently, this is common for all aspects of pregnancy beyond nutrition.  I’ve heard from several moms and moms-to-be that they encountered the same unsolicited advice all throughout their pregnancy.  Fun!  It’s usually well intended and due to excitement, so it’s nothing I get flustered about.  If it’s something I’ll never ever consider, I just thank the person and move on.  Even if it’s as ridiculous as telling me to stop running.  The only ones that are annoying are the “protein” questions, but I’ve been dealing with these ever since eating a plant based diet.  Occasionally I’ll try to reassure those who ask that I’m still eating plenty of food that has protein, but since most people equate protein with meat, it can often be an uphill battle a lost cause.  So sometimes I really just don’t bother.  I have a strong background in nutrition and know what foods contain what macronutrients, but I don’t have the energy to try and educate every person who harasses me about being vegetarian.  Nor do I want to.  So far, I don’t have any clever responses to nip the conversation at the bud, but if anyone else has some good ones, please share! 

In truth though, all the advice I’ve gotten has been from a place of love and caring (even if it is annoying and an invasion of what I think is a personal topic), so I just nod and smile and carry on with my hippie ways. 

For the people who have family or friends that just won’t quit, you could try providing links and data to back up your decision.  There are plenty of sources.  What to Expect sends me daily tips and this one was especially fitting for vegans or vegetarians.  You can site medical journal articles like this one on folate and a vegetarian diet.  Or show sites like this, which demonstrates it’s entirely possible to maintain a healthy pregnancy while vegan.

It’s still a good idea to stay open-minded though.  Every once in a while you may get a truly helpful hint, so don’t be completely closed off (after all, you never really know until you’ve been through it, right?). 

How does being pregnant affect your day in the hospital and the food you pack?

This is such a relevant question because a couple of weeks ago I realized I have been forgetting I’m pregnant while packing!!  It’s so annoying to run out of food at 5 pm knowing I have another 3+ hours until I can get home to eat (my shift ends at 7, but after giving report, driving home, showering, etc. it’s often 8:30 by the time I eat dinner).  Thank goodness for the extra bars I have stashed in my locker.

Anyway, it only took a few shifts of tummy growling until I quickly changed my ways and started packing even MORE food than I normally do.  Ideally, I’d be snacking every 1-2 hours to keep my blood sugar stable and avoid that horrible “stuffed” feeling that regular sized meals now seem to cause.  But the hospital isn’t exactly conducive to the “ideal” so I make do as best I can. 

The main thing that’s different is the way I eat my food, as opposed to the actual food I bring.  I still pack a big breakfast but I eat it in 2-3 sittings.  Same with lunch.  Whatever “entree” tupperware I bring (be it lasagna or a huge salad or leftovers) I eat it as a few mini meals rather than all at once on my lunch break. 

I still bring plenty of snacks – always ranging in type (sweet, savory, carby, salty, crunchy, fresh, etc.) so I will for sure have something on hand that sounds good.  An example snack scene in my lunchbox: banana, roasted almonds, pretzels, carrots and hummus, Larabar, cookie, candied ginger.  That way I have a dessert option, a veggie option, and fruit option, and carbohydrate option, a salty protein option, a palate cleanser, and a little something extra in case I’m having a really ravenous day.  :)  There’s nothing worse than feeling starving and not having anything healthy on hand. 

As far as how pregnancy affects my actual work day goes, I’d say I’m pretty lucky.  I told my boss as soon as I found out because it’s important for me to not have certain patients.  As a result, my assignments are much different now.  No contact precaution patients.  No chemo drugs.  Nothing that a pregnant person should handle.  And everyone asks how I’m doing and if I need help constantly.  I’m a very lucky girl.  

Can you share updates on how FODMAPs plays a role throughout the later stages of your pregnancy?

Now that I’m back to more normal(ish) eating, I’m trying to be more mindful of FODMAPs again.  To a certain extent.  Truthfully, avoiding wheat is my priority in terms of managing my GI symptoms because I seem to notice it’s effects much more during pregnancy.  In order to get the most well rounded and diverse micro and macro nutrients for my body (and my baby) I’m still eating many of the other FODMAPs, like beans and vegetables.  I don’t feel they affect me nearly as much as wheat does, and I think their absence from my diet would be a greater loss for my baby than it’s worth (to keep me 100% symptom free).  So I’ve made zucchini muffins, and massive kale salads, and lentil curry, and bean filled tacos, and just enjoyed the fact that I’m providing great nutrition for my growing babe.  And rather than eat bread, I’m sticking to other whole grains, like quinoa, rice, millet, oats (as well as some store bought Udi’s products).  So far, so good. 

I noticed a while back you weren’t really talking about your exercise routine anymore, so I was curious how it has changed (as I’m sure it has) since becoming pregnant?

For a variety of reasons, I’ve altered my fitness regimen, both pre-pregnancy and now during. 

First I’ll start with pre-pregnancy.  In my previous Q&A I touched on the fact that I decreased my running routine after Kyle and I decided to try to get pregnant.  This was entirely my own decision and not the advice of any medical professionals or anything like that.  On one hand, I was kinda burned out and in a rut with my exercise, but on the other hand, I was trying to get my period to be regular.  I didn’t know if the two were correlated, but I figured it was worth a try.  I’ve been super active in sports my entire life, so for as long as I’ve had my period, I’ve been intensely exercising.  For the record, I did see doctors about my infrequent periods multiple times throughout my 20’s (in both LA and NYC) and none ever expressed concern (I’m not sure if this is normal or not, but it is what it is).  I’ve always had normal labs, which led me to believe the intensity of my exercise could have played a part in my amenorrhea.  Self diagnosing at it’s finest.  So I decided to take a mini break from running.  I started going on long walks instead and I continued to ride my bike once a week or so.  I was enjoying this routine immensely, too.  [Side note: this was also around the same time that I got a sinus/ear infection and bronchitis so I was happy to rest].  It was during this time that I got pregnant.  I guess I’ll never know if the one thing had to do with the other, but that’s how it went down.

During the early part of my first trimester I was super exhausted all the time.  I had minimal energy, and work alone was enough fitness for me.  When I wasn’t nauseous, I went on walks.  Otherwise, I didn’t do much.  I got winded walking up stairs and reading pregnancy books out loud to Kyle!!  So pathetic!

In the later parts of my first trimester I began to attend prenatal yoga.  To be honest, this was still a bit of a struggle for me.  At times I’d get dizzy when my head went below my heart, and I’d have to rest and drink water several times throughout the class.  But things got better and better, and eventually I was going for walks and doing yoga regularly.

At some point in the early part of the second trimester, I started to have moments of normalcy where I almost felt like myself again.  That’s when I started running again.  Jogging is a more accurate description.  With frequent walking intervals.  Yes, I was out of shape, but thank to pregnancy, I got winded WAY more easily than previously.  I definitely didn’t push myself too hard and if anything ever felt off I’d simply walk until I felt good again.  Some days I’d have wonderful runs, where I felt like a million bucks, and other days I’d set off and realize pretty quickly it wasn’t gonna happen.  It’s not hard to listen to your body during pregnancy – it tells you exactly what it can and can’t do and there’s really no way around it!  Ha. 

For the most part I’ve been able to get in 1-3 runs a week, with walks or yoga on the non running days.  On work days I don’t even bother with exercise – 12 hours on my feet is enough to leave me exhausted.  Hopefully this will continue until my belly becomes too heavy to lug around!

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16 thoughts on “Pregnancy Q&A #2

  1. Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale

    People love to give their 2 cents on every topic — and I think that pregnancy is probably the most common!!
    I’m glad that you’re doing what is right for you and your body. As long as you’re strong and healthy, your baby will be too. :)

  2. Bee

    Congrats on the pregnancy! U’ll be one heck of a great mommy!

    How were u able to eat more high-FODMAPs foods? Did ur body heal many of the intolerances sporadically somehow? It seems that the more I try certain foods, the more things I have to take OUT, not put back IN. Any insight on this?

    Thanks!

  3. Stella

    This is the first time I’ve posted a comment! I love your site and congrats on your pregnancy! Just had a question. What are your thoughts on soy during pregnancy? I’m 29 weeks pregnant and my naturopath told me to stay away from soy during my pregnancy especially because I’m having a boy……apparently it can effect their reproductive organs?! Have you read anything about this? Any thoughts? I’m not a veg…..but I miss tempeh bacon!

  4. Mary

    This answer to the protein question usually stops people from bothering me anymore:”I get my protein from PLANTS,just like you do,only I cut-out the middle man.”(meat)
    Gets them thinking,keep up the good work Elise!
    Next they will be asking when your having a second baby.It’s never ending! :)

  5. Jamie

    Even though I’m not pregnant, have no kids, and do not plan to be pregnant, I absolutely love your Pregnancy Q&As!!! Regardless of my lack of pregnancy, I think the information you give is so important for many people to know– Much of it I can apply to my own health anyways, and the rest makes me good and aware of general struggles that pregnant women face.

    I find it all fascinating. Thank you so much, and I hope you keep the Q&As coming!

  6. Suzanne

    the baby is going to get what it needs…………..period. dont worry about it. you dont drink, smoke, or do drugs………eat when you are hungry and eat what you want and be done with it.

    as for dealing with unsolicited advice…….your blog is WAY too G-rated for me to tell you what I would actually say. just stand firm in what you believe is right and before you know it your pregnancy will be over and people will be telling you how to raise your child…….not kidding. consider this practice for telling people “I got this”. :)

  7. Lisa F. @thevalleyvegan

    GREAT entry as always! I just linked the What to Expect article on veg*n nutrition on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheValleyVegan If it helps just one woman feel better about her choices, then we’ve all done our jobs!

    When I was pregnant, I was already a devoted yogini, so my Ashtanga practice was just toned down a bit – and I got A LOT of personal attention from my teachers. As the pregnancy progressed, they just lightened my practice appropriately. On the other hand, I was horseback riding. Yes, you read that right! I was riding English jumpers, but obviously, under the advice of my teacher, stopped jumping. My doctor told me it was safe to ride (with STRONG supervision) until I felt uncomfortable. I rode until I was 30 weeks along (when I started having Braxton Hicks), just a little walk/trot/canter no more jumping of course! I found that the movement of the horse alleviated many of my back pains and kept my hips nice & loose. It’s NOT for everyone, but I guess what I learned during my pregnancy was that my doctor was queen over my exercise, and my teachers (both riding & yoga) were second in command.

    There is something wonderful about keeping moving during pregnancy – both for body & mind – made me feel normal!

  8. Elise Post author

    dont worry about soy. i asked my MD and he said it was fine to eat tofu and tempeh. i also couldnt find a single research article that linked soy to estrogen and/or hormone changes in a pregnant woman or her child (boy or girl). and i researched ALL medical articles i had access to at my (university teaching) hospital.

  9. bee

    Wow, sorry..didnt mean to make u mad. I was just wondering how u are able to tolerate high-fodmaps foods…u were on a low fodmaps diet before, and now it seems u are eating just a “normal” diet (which is awesome!). So, hence my confusion

  10. Laura

    If anyone ever said that to me I would say ‘fascinating! do you have a reference for a peer-reviewed paper from a high impact journal to substantiate your claim? maybe it’s the British reserve, but frequently when someone hears i am vegan it completely changes their view of me, more often than not keeping me at arm’s length, thinking i’m going to start spouting statistics at them or else i am in denial about an ED or just purely delusional (especially from my fellow medics!). oh well, i guess i used to think vegans had made strange life choices 10 years ago. karma huh?!

  11. Pingback: My definition of “low” « FODMAPS diet

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