According to research, breast-fed babies make fewer trips to the doctor, especially during the first six months of life, than their bottle-fed counterparts. There are five main advantages of breast feeding:

  • Mother’s milk contains potent levels of fatty acids which are believed to play a significant role in the growth and development of the infant’s brain
  • Breast milk provides immunity until the time the baby is able to build its own immunity
  • There is reason to believe that breast-fed babies experience fewer allergies compared to their bottle-fed counterparts
  • Breast feeding is much more affordable and convenient
  • It facilitates and strengthens mother-infant bonding

That being said, many people wonder whether breastfeeding for a vegetarian is the same as breast feeding for a non-vegetarian. Of course it is. While many people are of the opinion that a breast feeding vegetarian mother will not provide the baby with enough nutrition, rest assured that as long as you are getting sufficient amounts of zinc, calcium, Vitamin B12, and proteins to sustain you and your growing baby, then you are providing your little one with all the nutrition that it needs to grow healthily.

Formulating a well balanced vegetarian diet has always been a challenge for people, and it becomes even more challenging when you have to factor in the nutritional benefits of the breast-fed babies. The good news is that by knowing the amount of nutrients and minerals that your body needs as a nursing mother, you can be able to plan your diet accordingly.

There are enough calcium and zinc-rich foods for vegetarians in the market. Only ensure you take the recommended 1,000mg and 12mg of calcium and zinc respectively on a daily basis. Potent sources of zinc apart from dairy and meat products include peanuts, wheat germ, bran cereals, beans, spinach, and pumpkin seeds.

It is to be mentioned that nutrition is not the only thing that your baby needs from you through breast milk. There are also the antibodies passed on to the growing infant. Antibodies form an integral part of the immune system that helps attack disease causing organisms. Because you have developed sufficient antibodies for yourself over the years, your baby has not because they have not yet been exposed to any disease causing organisms.

A vegetarian breast feeding mother therefore has to factor in this when formulating their food pyramid. Ensure you get sufficient vitamins B12 from fruits and vegetables. You might also want to discuss with your doctor whether vitamin supplements will be ideal, especially those made specifically for nursing mothers, to ensure you get the extra vitamins to help pass antibodies to your baby.

By the same token, you should ensure you take foods rich in enough folic acid and iron to help boost the manufacture of new and healthy blood cells that can be passed down to your baby.  Foods such as kidney beans, prunes, raisins, apricots, mushrooms, and soy foods can be very effective in this when following a vegetarian diet. Simply put, you don’t have to eat dairy and meat to breast feed; there are very many options available at your disposal to ensure you supplement your baby with all the vital nutrients for their healthy growth.

Karen is a contributor for Credit Cards Canada where you can get some interesting information on Best Canadian Credit Cards and other financial information.

Photo by ECohen