One of the unavoidable parts of pregnancy is the need to take care of not just yourself but your unborn baby as well. A lot of people seem to have the idea that in order to do that, you need to pack on endless amounts of fat and just continue consuming food until the baby pops, but that’s not exactly the case. Even stranger, people have a misconception that a vegetarian diet, while able to work well for an adult, simply can’t provide everything the developing baby needs to be born healthy. If you’re pregnant and happen to be a vegetarian, here’s what you should be thinking about in regards to your diet.

The simplest things change when you discover you’re pregnant. Assuming you’re a responsible adult, you’ll give up smoking and drinking entirely for the extent you’re pregnant, as well as a while afterward (otherwise toxins can still get into breast milk). It’s also a good idea to give up caffeine, which sure, may be a difficult decision as a lot of people are reliant on their morning cup of Joe, but ultimately caffeine can speed up a fetus’ heartbeat and do some serious damage to their growth.

A more pressing issue that a lot of expectant mothers have on their mind is all about how best to eat in order to ensure their baby gets the proper nutrition. People seem to believe that babies growing in the womb are much more reliant upon protein via meat than even adults, though this is just a natural progression of the usual protein myth that people believe, thinking that vegetarians don’t get enough protein because they don’t eat meat. As we all know, protein is very common in nuts, legumes, and vegetables of all sorts, so there’s no fear about lacking protein by not eating meat, unborn babies included.

While pregnancy does require a heavier emphasis on watching what you eat and balancing things correctly, you can quite simply maintain your current vegetarian diet and be perfectly fine, save for the usual morning sickness and random bouts of nausea that goes hand-in-hand with babies. The goal is to avoid the usual junk foods that people associate with pregnancy (ice cream, chocolate, chips, cookies, cakes, etc.) and try and focus more on adding more calories to your diet where they count. The list of foods you could look into is pretty long, but you’ll want to make sure you’re getting some of the following:

-Iron (black cherries, dark greens)

-Calcium (tofu, kale, collard greens, carrots)

-Protein (nuts, seeds, beans, tofu)

-Folic Acid/B9 (soybeans, fresh mushrooms, leafy green vegetables)

-Vitamin D (sunlight)

-Vitamin B12 (dairy, dairy substitutes, meat substitutes, fortified cereals)

-Fiber (raw fruits, raw vegetables, beans, nuts)

-Water (from water of course)

Following a basic diet that includes those foods (not exclusively of course) can help put you on the right track toward a full, complete pregnancy diet. For the best results there, make sure to check with your doctor of course as they may recommend certain foods you that specifically should get lots of, such as if you’re prone to have an iron deficiency or typically lack fiber in your diet. You’ve got to eat enough to keep both you and your baby healthy, and that may seem like a steep bill to pay, it’s really not.

If the nausea is getting to you, there are some mild foods you can try eating, such as something simple like oatmeal or a bagel with some peanut butter on it. Cold cereal is typically pretty easy going as well as crackers, though for larger meals you could easily eat a bean-based burrito or replace whole meals with a green smoothie. Smoothies can become your best friend if you let them!

Pregnancy has a habit of complicating things, but your diet doesn’t have to be one of them. Some doctors may recommend shifting from ma vegan diet to a more standard vegetarian diet, though this is all dependant on specific factors within you and your family’s history. Be sure to be aware of what your body’s doing and ask questions if something seems off, but ultimately you don’t need to worry about your vegetarian diet being a negative. On the contrary, it’s still one of the greatest positives you could possibly hope for! May you baby reap the benefits of your diet as well!