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When I became pregnant with my son back in 2011, it was never a question on whether or not I would breastfeed him. With my twin daughters, I wasn’t able to continue on the BF road (due to lack of support and education, plus the overwhelming feeling of two), so I was determined to stick with breastfeeding this time around.
What I wasn’t expecting, however, was a mini backlash from folks who were opposed to my BF adventure, simply because of my choice to live a vegan lifestyle.
This mini firestorm posed a very important question that I feel needs to be answered, which is “Can and should vegans breastfeed?”
I can answer this question with a very confidant and experienced “YES.” Vegans CAN and SHOULD breastfeed their babies. What I’m hoping to accomplish from this post is simply to clear up and debunk some vegan myths, and in doing so, reassure some of those vegan mamas out there that what they are doing is not just OK, but fantastic.
It’s impossible to get enough nutrients for your baby, therefor your baby will be underweight and malnourished.
Okay, so number one, as I have demonstrated in the past, vegan diets are perfectly healthy during pregnancy. Yet some people assume that once baby is out, we will immediately take to drinking gallons of milk and stuffing ourselves with cheese, for “healthy” lactation. This is nonsense thinking because choosing a vegan lifestyle is, number one, a moral issue, and number two, is not absent of important nutrients that is required for good lactation.
In fact, choosing plant foods during your breastfeeding journey is giving your baby a rainbow of vitamins and nutrients, while also avoiding harmful ingredients or additives that come along with animal products.
Furthermore, whether you eat vegan or not, your baby’s weight is not determined by your “type” of breast milk. It is important to know, that when you go to a pediatrician, typically their charts on weight gain are based on formula fed babies. It is a fact that breastfed babies weigh less than formula fed babies. Also, it is nonsensical to base your babies progress on numbers alone- you have to look at the child.
There are signs of an undernourished child, such as dark circles under the eyes, sunken soft spot, and dried lips.
As for manners- it is pretty arrogant and ignorant for someone to approach a stranger and accuse them of not feeding their baby well enough. When my son was around 3 months old, I literally had a woman approach me after a “Le Leche League” meeting, and tell me flatly that I needed to “get educated” about my lifestyle. She proceeded to look my child up and down, and then surprisingly say “Well, he does LOOK okay.”
This is still frustrating to think about, because the whole point of “Le Leche League” is to support mothers, not send them out to the parking lot in tears. Even though it was rude and hurtful, I was able to stand my ground, and tell her that I was very comfortable and confident in my decision, that I appreciated the concern, but that perhaps she was the one who needed to “get educated.”
Formula supplements are superior and makes up for what vegan breast milk is lacking. So, you shouldn’t even try to breastfeed.
Hmf. Well, this is laughable at best…really. The truth is, that breast milk, no matter WHAT DIET YOU ARE ON, is SUPERIOR to formula. Period. It’s sad to me, that someone would question my choice to breastfeed, simply because of how I choose to nourish my body, and in turn, my baby’s body. Yet, a mother who’s diet mainly consists of fast food burgers and overly processed junk food would never be questioned- that is the ridiculous thinking of society today!
I have been told that I “shouldn’t even try.” That my milk is not good enough for my baby.
In reality, breast milk is what is best for babies- it is a living food, complete with everything baby needs, right from the start. It is the perfect temperature at all times, free from chemicals and additives, and protects and powers your baby’s immune system. The best part is, it’s natural, and we are meant to do it. Our bodies know, when baby is born, that now it is time to nourish that child. It is all perfectly and divinely set up, so that our babies have the best chance of survival.
Did you know that formula companies still do not have to let the public know what is actually in their formula?
Did you know that prior to the late 1800’s, babies who didn’t have access to a breast were doomed to die?
And yet, now, we have been brainwashed by formula companies, that this highly processed powder, made from chemicals (some of which, we aren’t even allowed to know) is BETTER than what was meant to be? Breast is BEST. Breast is meant for milk, not for pleasure. And vegan milk is AWESOME.
Let me ask you this too, since we are on the subject- what is the cows natural diet? Grass? Ok then.
IF YOU ARE CONCERNED:
Eat like you are pregnant, and load up on plenty of calories and veg protein. I continued to consume protein shakes, prenatal vitamins, B12 supplements, and second helpings during meal times. I also added special herbs and foods to increase breast milk.
More importantly, look a the child. Do they have access to the breast at all times (open bar)? If so, are they eating often? Do they have frequent pee and poopy diapers? Are they hitting beginners milestones (such as smiling)? What we want, as vegan breastfeeding mamas, is to notice progress. Any form of progress is good, it’s when things start to regress that we should be concerned, such as loss of appetite, the malnourished signs mentioned earlier, loss of sleep, etc. You WILL know if something is wrong with your baby. Over thinking and over analyzing our babies weights can actually result in a loss of breast milk simply due to stress. So, take a breather, know that everything is okay, and praise yourself for breastfeeding your baby!
What is your favorite thing about breastfeeding? Share in the comments below!