Herbie of the Week: Jesse (She Shares Her Plant-Based Pregnancy Experience!)

Meet our Herbie of the Week: Jesse!

I first "met" Jesse when she posted this beautiful picture and message on the Happy Herbivore Facebook page:

"My husband and I are expecting our first baby very soon (due March 20), and I can't even go into all the ways you have been apart of our journey. But I wanted to share this picture with you. One of the ladies I work with crocheted the blanket you see on the crib. She made the pattern herself by using your Herbie logo. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness and how gorgeous it was!"

I was so touched by Jesse's kind words that I asked if she would share her plant-based pregnancy experience for the Herbie of the Week series.

Hopefully all you mamas-to-be will find her story (below) helpful!

I always wanted a family, but until I switched to a plant-based diet, I did not feel up to the challenge of raising a child. I had many bad habits when it came to eating, drinking, and exercise. My husband and I made the decision to go plant-based and the first cookbook we ordered was the Happy Herbivore Cookbook. I still remember the first recipe we made was the onion rings and it's still one of my favorites! Changing my diet sparked many other changes in my life, I started exercising and my husband and I completed our first marathon in 2012 (fueled by HH Fudgy Brownies)! I started taking responsibility and accountability for my actions. I finally felt in control, and understood I was responsible for my own happiness. I starting living by the motto: "be the change you want to see in the world". My husband and I were at last ready start a family, and I found out I was pregnant in July 2013.

The first trimester was full of excitement, learning, and just about every other emotion you can think of! I was worried I would get flack from my friends and family about our plant-based diet, but was pleasantly surprised by the amount of support I received. I got questions from some people like “are you going to stay vegan?”, or “you're going to drink milk, right?”. I knew their intentions were in a good place, and I had done lots of research about a plant-based diet to know I could get adequate nutrition even while pregnant. My midwife stressed the importance of getting enough protein, but other than that, had no concerns about my diet choice.

The first few months were a challenge because I did feel quite nauseous. I never got morning sickness, but I would feel very tired and nothing sounded appetizing. I found myself craving meat and other animal products. It was summertime; many people were grilling and the smells were unavoidable. Even though I never gave into them, I felt guilty about my cravings. I knew if I gave in, it would make me feel worse than I already did physically and emotionally. The few things I could eat, I ate a lot (peanut butter toast, vegetable soup, pancakes, baked potatoes). I had some strange food aversions – beans and guacamole – which I LOVED to eat before! I didn't always make the healthiest choice, but I knew it would be a matter of time when I would start to feel better and up to eating more healthy options.

The second trimester was a totally different story! The nausea was gone, and I could go back to eating what I loved! I also had more energy so I could prepare more heathy meals for my husband and I. Now I'm late in my third trimester and still feeling great! I can't eat quite as much in one sitting as I'd like, so I try to do smaller more frequent meals. I also have snacks that are higher in protein (trail mix, protein shake, bagel with peanut butter).

My visits to the midwife went really well. They performed many tests: iron levels, hemoglobin, glucose, blood pressure, urine. All my tests came back normal, which was a huge relief! I was a bit concerned about my iron levels just because I tend to worry and I can get caught up in myths and misinformation, but after my test results, I was reassured that there was nothing wrong with my diet choice.

I lost weight in the first trimester because I wasn't getting enough calories. I wasn't getting enough calories because I felt sick from not eating often enough – it was viscous cycle! After I felt better in my second trimester, I quickly put on the pounds! I gained (so far) a total of 37 pounds, and my midwife says that's right on track! I heard many women complain of swelling, constipation, indigestion, and heart burn. I never worried about constipation – I knew I was getting plenty of fiber. I did get indigestion and heart burn later in the pregnancy because the baby was getting so big and there's only so much room! I experienced some mild swelling recently in my third trimester, but nothing compared to some of the horror stories I'd heard. I could still put on my shoes and all my rings fit on their original fingers.

Happy Herbivore played a major role in my life before and during pregnancy. Even at my most tired and unmotivated, I could always find something in my HH cookbooks that looked yummy! One of my strangest meals was HH pancakes, tofu scramble, and onion rings. It was absolutely delicious! Once HHLL came out, I quickly found my new favorite recipe – Tempeh Bacon! I make a sandwich with the tempeh bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and hummus – I call it my BLTAwesome. My baby shower featured many HH items: Choclolate Cake (HHLL) and Carrot Cake Cupcakes (HHC) (both made into mini-cupcakes), Spinach Artichoke dip (HHLL), and Vegan Devilled Eggs (HHLL). All of which were a hit amongst my omni family!

After the baby is born, we are planning to raise them plant-based. Luckily, there is so much information available online about this topic and I'm looking forward to embarking on a whole new journey after the baby arrives!

Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Jesse! And congrats on your little Herbie!

UPDATE April 2014

Flora Linden Halstead was born on March 21, 2014 at 8:21 am. She was a very healthy baby weighing 7 lbs 6 oz, 19 ¾ in long. Giving birth was the most amazing experience of my life! I was able to have a natural delivery (no pain medication or other drugs) thanks in large part to my doula and fabulous support system. My husband and I were pretty scared bringing her home from the hospital, but every day gets a little easier as we continue to learn more about her! Flora is now over a month old, and she is just perfect. She is growing so fast – it seems every day she changes just a little bit and gains more weight.

In preparation for my postpartum recovery, I had several freezer meals – some of which I prepared and some my family prepared for me. Tempeh Joes (HHC), Apple Crisp muffins, chocolate chip cookies, and Carrot Cake Cupcakes were a few of my favorites – and they all froze/thawed very well. After I used up all the meals in the freezer, I was (and still am!) very thankful to have all my Happy Herbivore cookbooks. I know I can open any of them and find a quick simple meal to make. And I usually have all the ingredients on hand! Some of my current go-to recipes are from HHLL: Chickpea Tenders and Taco Burgers.

I can't wait to see what Flora will be like as she continues to develop her personality! I look forward to introducing her to the wonderful world of plant-based living.