Vegetarian diet and nursing

I am a nursing mother, and also a vegetarian. My baby seems to be experiencing a lot of gas and has much more frequent and looser stools than my children did when I occasionally had animal products. Also are there any additional supplements I should be taking while nursing? My pediatrician is unfamiliar with the requirements of a vegetarian diet.

Thanks,

Janet

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Dear Janet,

The main nutritional concern with a vegetarian diet centers around whether a nursing mom is consuming animal protein, which can include dairy products, eggs, fish or meat. If these foods are not a regular part of your diet, supplementation with vitamin B12, and/or regular intake of foods such as fortified soy milk and fortified yeast is recommended.

Eat a well-balanced diet, consisting of a wide variety of foods, in as close to their natural state as possible. This is important for general health and well-being. Choosing foods with complementary protein at the same meal will help increase protein utilization.

If you are not consuming dairy products, choose calcium-rich foods such as leafy green vegetables (collard, kale, broccoli, etc.), calcium-enriched tofu, blackstrap molasses, almonds, brazil nuts or a daily supplement containing elemental calcium.

Gassiness in babies is very normal and can be caused by many things. I would not necessarily attribute this to a vegetarian diet. If you do feel that something in your diet is posing a particular problem for your little one, I would advise eliminating that item from your diet for a period of one to two weeks. If you note a positive change once the food is eliminated, you have probably found the answer.

Dairy products in the mother's diet seem to be problematic for some nursing babies. Often, dairy products play a predominant role in the vegetarian diet. If dairy products form an important part of your daily diet, this might be the first area you want to look into. Best wishes!

Warmly,
Debbi

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