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Non-Vegetarian Having Vegan Baby

Breastfeeding Alternatives? Soy Formula?

I'm 7 months pregnant, my husband has a vegan diet and I do not but he wants us to raise the baby vegan. I am all for it however when it comes to her infancy I'm concerned about the baby being breast fed and what alternatives there are for her.

Assuming I should have a problem breastfeeding or get to a point where I want to start her on some kind of soy formula...what is the best I can give her in order to stay as close to a non-toxic, natural intake of nutrients?

My husband does not like the idea of soy formula and I'm trying to see if there's an alternative to giving her a product like Similac. We do not plan to give her cow's milk or any dairy just to avoid the mucus build up. Any advice? I'm totally new to this on every level and feel so lost! - M.C.

Savvy Vegetarian Advice:

Dear M.C.

Your question about soy formula puts me right in the middle of a growing controversy about soy formula. I did some research and found many articles on the subject, with opinions ranging from dead set against to 100% positive.

Here are two of the most informative (and balanced) articles I found:

The Right Formula? Soy Milk vs. Cow's Milk Soy Baby Formula and Phytoestrogens

I'd like to comment on a couple of other issues in your letter.

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About Breastfeeding: You seem to be unsure whether you can have a successfully breastfed baby, and I wonder why. Breastfeeding is by far the easiest, safest, most nourishing way to feed a baby, and best for Mom too in so many ways. Please try to relax about it, and trust that you can do this.

Before your baby is born, learn all you can about breastfeeding and find the support you need to help you succeed. Don't consider any other option unless you honestly feel that you have no choice. For information and resources, see the SV articles on vegetarian pregnancy and breastfeeding,

If you plan on raising a vegan baby, the best for you and your baby would be to breast feed completely until 6 months of age, then gradually introduce other foods, and start to wean between a year and eighteen months of age. There are many reasons why I say that, and again you'll find them in the above article.

Another resource I recommend is About.com Pregnancy. Robin Weiss, the editor, is the mother of six, a lactation specialist and doula. She edits the column in her spare time!

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Speaking of raising a vegan baby, I'm sure that you intend to make sure that your child is getting everything she needs to grow strong and healthy. However, if you're eating meat while growing and breastfeeding this baby, you are in essence feeding your baby meat. And when you wean your baby, it will be awkward to eat a different diet than your child and your husband - you'll be her primary caregiver, and you are a non-vegetarian.

Children know their own minds, and your daughter may prefer to eat animal products, in spite of all your intentions and efforts. I still feel it's far better to have a breastfed baby, regardless of what you eat, but this is an issue that you and your husband may want to consider and discuss before reality sets in. Don't let any of this become a contentious issue between you - some compromises may be necessary for the sake of domestic harmony.

Here are a few references: 'Raising Vegetarian Children', by Jo Stepaniak, a bit preachy, but lots of good info, and Becoming Vegan by Melina and Davis, an excellent Vegan nutrition reference. Cathe Olson's 'Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook' is another great resource, as is her website. Susun Weed's The Childbearing Year is an indispensable herbal pregancy and breastfeeding help. Here's a Susun Weed article about pregnancy tonics

I wish you a joyful birth, and a blissful baby! - Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

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Response From Mom-To-Be:

Wow, thank you so much for your input - it was very thorough and more than I expected. You rock! :)

Just to answer back on a few things you touched on: I have been reading a lot on breasfeeding and I guess hearing how if the baby doesn't latch on correctly you'll have a hard time at it I'd just rather have a back up plan. This is our first child and we are on our own not really having any family around to help so that makes me want to be as prepared as possible.

With regards to my own diet ... my husband and I have gone over a few things he's wanted me to change for the sake of the baby. First I only eat chicken, no red meat, and he's asked I not eat any pork (bacon) or fried foods. I've been able to do that as well as having kicked the coffee habit successfully 2 months before I found out I was pregnant.

I've also incorporated some things in my diet ... we have a juicer so he makes me fresh juices weekly, I drink abundant water, and I have bee pollen and spiralina daily, mixed greens every day and even my prenatal pills are from a vegetarian store.

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My husband wants her to get as close to a vegetarian diet as possible but if she chooses to eat like her mother than he's ready to accept that. He has a very strict diet and knows he cannot expect the baby to follow that. (It's hard enough for adults to follow a raw food life style).

Once again thank you for all the input and for the links. I will be busy reading them over the weekend! - M.C.

From Savvy Veg: Thanks for answering back! I feel a lot less concerned about you now. I'm sure you'll be fine with breastfeeding, as most women are.

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