I was a vegan before I became pregnant with my first son. After I developed anemia during my pregnancy, my doctor advised me to start eating red meat.
Many of my vegan friends tried to convince me to that I didn’t have to turn my back on my vegan lifestyle just because I was anemic. While there are a lot of good arguments for meeting your nutritional needs during pregnancy as a vegetarian, I did what I thought was best for us.
According to an article by the University of California San Francisco’s Medical Center, iron can not be made by a woman’s body. It has to be absorbed through our diet.
My obstetrician said she believed it was my vegan diet that was the root of my anemia, but there are some vegetables that contain iron, such as spinach.
Signs I had anemia
I was extremely tired during my pregnancy, which I shrugged off as being part of the process. At times I felt light-headed or dizzy. A blood test showed I was anemic.
Prenatal vitamins weren’t enough
Even though I was taking prenatal vitamins that included iron, I was still not getting enough. The prenatal vitamins tended to upset my stomach until I started taking the iron pills with my meals. According to the UCSF Medical Center, it’s best not to take iron supplements with calcium supplements or dairy products.
Like most people, I knew that red meat contained a lot of iron. But my doctor told me about other surprising sources of iron such as blackstrap molasses. I poured the molasses on my hot buckwheat cereal in the morning.
One of the keys to absorbing more iron during my pregnancy was to combine foods that contained Vitamin C and iron. I also started cooking with cast iron pots.
How much iron
My doctor told me the recommended daily allowance of iron during pregnancy is 30 milligrams.
I kept a food diary to keep track of how much iron I was eating each day. I’d jot down about 3 milligrams for eating a baked potato with skin, 1 milligram for a serving of raspberries and 2 milligrams for 3 ounces of roast beef.
Some of the other surprising sources of iron included beets, sauerkraut, lentils, tofu and some enriched pastas.
Although most people know liver contains iron, I refused to include that in my diet to combat my pregnancy anemia.
By the time I entered my third trimester, my signs and symptoms of anemia such as fatigue started to fade away. I had more energy, which helped me when it came time to push through the birthing process.
After I gave birth to my son, I continued to include plenty of iron in my diet so that I’d have the energy to breastfeed and care for a growing boy.
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Brewer Diet During Pregnancy
Skipping Breakfast During Pregnancy