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Vegan While Pregnant & Birthing

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Looking to enjoy an animal-friendly pregnancy, birth, and beyond? Read on for some tips I picked up along the way…

First, a little about my experience: I decided to eat a vegan diet four and a half years ago and shortly thereafter began adapting the rest of my lifestyle to be cohesive with veganism. Why? For sake of brevity, I’d say in this order: 1) for animals, 2) for my health, 3) for the planet.

Before, I was a type of pescetarian for some years. I ate fish on a regular basis (I’ll admit, I was addicted to sashimi grade raw fish — blech!), scrambled eggs on special occasions, and I didn’t consume much dairy or cheese directly, but also didn’t notice or care if it happened to be hidden in foods (which is most of them, it turns out!). So for me, the switch to a vegan diet was a pretty much a matter of ordering vegetable sushi, scrambling tofu instead of egg, and checking labels for dairy and other hidden animal ingredients.

My oldest son had just turned one a few months prior to this lifestyle change. He was starting to eat food other than breast milk, and it ended up being plenty of time to get adjusted before my next pregnancy, which was fully vegan and perfectly healthy.

Both of my kids are vegan (M is five, J just turned 2) and so is my husband, so that makes things easy when it comes to dining out, stocking the pantry, cooking meals and so on.

Skip ahead to sections:

1). Vegan While Pregnant & Birthing

2). Vegan While Breastfeeding

  • Tips
  • Mother’s Breast Milk
  • Donor Breast Milk
  • Plant-Based Formula
  • Conventional Formula
  • Homemade Formula
  • Lanolin Nipple Cream

And coming soon in the next post…

3). Vegan While Raising Baby

  • Tips
  • Vitamins
  • Baby Foods/Plant-Based BLW
  • Baby Products
  • OTC Medicines
  • Circumcision
  • Diapers
Disclosure statement because I’m not a Doctor, m’kay?
The following is not intended as medical advice. Always ask your doctor/pediatrician/naturopath/health provider for a professional opinion before taking any advice suggested here, which is for educational purposes only and to be considered at your own risk.
Also, please note – this post contains no paid affiliate links.

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Encouragement For Full-Term & Tandem Breastfeeders

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🌻 These two milk siblings, blood brothers, M and J. Just over 5 years and almost 2 years old, respectively — the former the same age as my nursing journey overall and the latter the same as my experience in tandem nursing. Such tiny numbers really. Hard to imagine we were nothing and growing and birthing and birthed and empty and nourished more than once over in that amount of time.

M and J don’t like to be separated. Though they annoy each other and feel overwhelmed with the art of sharing from time to time, as siblings do, they prefer each other’s close company. J learns a lot from his big brother (like how to get dressed and sing) and M never hesitates to include J in his activities.

Their bond began when J was in my womb, every day growing stronger until one day he’d feel ready for life Earthside. From age 2.5 to 3.5 years, M watched my belly swell bigger and bigger. He knew his little brother was inside ‘swimming in water.’ He knew J could hear him so he spoke to him often. He said “Good morning!,” and “Good night!” every day for months, with a morning kiss and night kiss (and lots of extras in between).

He saw J for the first time around midnight, about an hour after he was born. I was laying in our bed with J on my breast. M gave J a kiss — a real, live, salty, good morning and good night kiss — right on his freshly born little head.

M had the honor of separating his little brother’s cord. We chose a Sacred Severance ceremony involving quiet, meditation, and burning of the cord instead of cutting. M, his dad, and our doula held candles to the cord in gentle recognition of this significant alteration. M was not present for the birth so this was his special contribution to our welcoming of J into the land of lung breathers.

J has known M his whole life. Though M was Earthside 3.5 years longer, it seems he’s known J just as long. Continue reading

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No More Babies: How I Really Feel (Last Child Grief)

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Thoughts at 4 Months Postpartum

I only have two children, and two will be my only. We always planned to have two kids for the usual reasons: financial resources, practicality, health reasons, familiarity, and so on.

This pregnancy and postpartum were much different than the first. I suspect it has much to do with knowing they’ll be my last.

I feel the postpartum slipping away. My youngest is now four months old, which means a little more than a trimester ago he was playing, breathing, wriggling, and listening in my womb.

For these past months I’ve watched my body turn into something blooming and abundant to swollen and rumpling to deflated and limp, stressed from constant demands upon it and weak from the the endless drill of late nights and early mornings. I’ve felt unmotivated to move into a new chapter, for I know once that happens, I won’t get to call myself ‘newly postpartum.’ In my case, not ever again.

This is now the body I’m left with. Rather, this is the body I get to keep. I’ve got more skin than I had before, a herniated navel, and my hair seems to be grieving with me as it sheds like a willow in the fall.

I think I’ll say I’m no longer ‘postpartum’ when my linea nigra disappears. The first time it took a year. I think that’s when I’ll stop telling people “I just had a baby…”

Right now my body is a signpost of declarations that say this shop is closed, be back soon. I know better because my intentions are steps ahead; I know the shop is closed indefinitely. Continue reading

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Break The Ice About Circumcision: For Birth/Medical Workers & Their Clients

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Gather Your Bravery

Whether you’re a midwife, OB/Gyn, doula, childbirth educator, nurse, or pediatrician, you need to have this talk. You need to bring up circumcision and facilitate an honest, complete, educational discussion about it, just as you would any other birth or newborn procedure.

You routinely provide updated information about, say, epidurals and exclusive breastfeeding, right? Then you must give as much attention to this other elective birth ‘option’ of neonatal genital cutting.

I’m sure it can be difficult to balance the various aspects of your job description: unconditional support of a mother’s choices, preserving her and her baby’s well-being, matter-of-factly offering guidance with minimal personal bias.

Though it may seem that a neutral stance of ‘pro-parent’s choice’ (PPC) is the path of least resistance here, it is certainly not ‘pro-baby.’ As a birth worker, your responsibility of care covers a client’s child as well.

Think about this: Would you discourage a parent from circumcising a daughter if they expressed interest to do so? Or would you refer a pro- female circumcision parent to someone who’s willing to perform the procedure, locally or overseas?

Many PPC birth workers refer pro-male circumcision clients who are expecting sons to what they nickname ‘holistic circumcisers’ (though the very definition of circumcision absolutely defies the concept of holism), which deprives these parents the support and encouragement they need to make a better choice — that is, the choice to give their son HIS own choice.

Remember you might be the only person to ever bring this up with your client during her pregnancy. If she cannot count on her care provider to open up this relevant discussion, who can she count on?

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For the Breastfeeding ‘Butters’

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If you’ve ever said “I support breastfeeding, but [insert almost any phrase],” I must break it to you:

You don’t truly support breastfeeding if you need to put a condition upon it. (This goes for the reluctant “supporters” and passionate advocates alike).

Examples: Continue reading

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The Secrets of Postpartum Bodies

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The power of transformation is an inherent gift of woman. The spider, snake, and butterfly are just a few of many creatures regarded as manifestations of feminine energy and universal symbols of shape-shifting. A master of creation, woman’s body is the original 3D printer. When she nurses a child, as Mark Twain once said, “she has no equal among men.”

Somehow still, many of us know discontent with or hatred for our bodies, whether transient or persistent. What’s worse is we believe it’s normal. Accepted to the point of expectation. This is especially true at the moment we inherit our mothering bodies. Through literally all forms of media and outlets for opinion, we are told before anything else that mothering bodies are not sexy, therefore not valuable, therefore invisible.

It’s a dangerous trajectory for the postpartum woman who is vulnerable, open, and recovering — she is brainwashed to confuse these things with weakness, brokenness, incapability, and decreased desirability. Continue reading