Nutritional Counseling for Vegetarians During Pregnancy and Lactation

Debra S. Penney, CNM, MS, MPH; Kathleen G. Miller, CNM, MS


J Midwifery Womens Health. 2008;53(1):37-44. 

In This Article


Nutritional evaluation is an essential part of prenatal care. A dietary assessment is essential to inform the health care provider about the adequacy of the pregnant or lactating woman's diet and to provide a basis for education. Pregnant and lactating vegetarians require acceptance for their choices, education, and resources to address their nutritional needs. Vegetarians may feel defensive and misunderstood because of their food choices. Establishing a trusting, nonjudgmental attitude toward the health practices and beliefs of the client will facilitate effective counseling. The use of food lists and menus for vegetarians may be helpful resources for the health care provider when discussing diet selections with the client. The health care provider should have basic ideas of what areas to address with each diet preference and be able to direct the woman to available resources, including consultation with a registered dietician if available. Some references are listed in the Appendix. Health care providers play a critical role in educating and supporting vegetarian and vegan clients. An overview of selected nutrients and weight gain standards will help guide the health care provider support a woman who consumes a vegetarian diet through pregnancy and lactation.


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