Herbie of the Week: Jessica C (From a Plant-Based Pregnancy to Raising a Little Herbie!)

Meet our Herbie of the Week: Jessica C!

Back in September, Jessica sent me the following email:

"I want to share my recent success story as a young, new mom following a plant-based diet while I breastfeed my son. At the hospital when our pediatrician asked what my diet was like I told him that I was mostly vegan throughout my pregnancy but would be continuing a vegan diet while breastfeeding our son. He said he didn't recommend such a diet and went on to list certain benefits of eggs, etc. Our son was born at 41 weeks, 8 lbs 13 oz, 22 inches and very healthy. So, I continued to eat a plant-based diet while nursing, not heeding his advice. And here is the great success. At our son Vincent's 2 month check-up he weighed 15.5 lbs, is 25 3/4 in tall and both of those are in the 98th percentile! He is all around very healthy. So I feel confident as ever that this is the absolute right diet for me and my sweet baby. Our pediatrician didn't mention my diet choices at this appointment."

Not only was I happy and proud of Jessica and her family, I just had to have her share story to help mamas and soon-to-be-mamas feel better about a plant-based pregnancy -- especially when so many doctors tell them they cannot be plant-based.

Here's Jessica's story in her own words...

My husband and I welcomed our wonderful son Vincent to the world in July of this year. When he finally came at 41 weeks and 1 day, we were more than ready to meet him. He came into the world weighing 8 lbs 13 oz and was 22 inches long - a healthy baby boy!

I had a fantastic pregnancy, and I believe my diet contributed to how great the experience was. I was mostly plant-based throughout my pregnancy (cheese and ice cream did eventually get to me in my weakened pregnant state, I’ll be honest. I had only become plant-based 4 months before we found out we were expecting, and vegetarian only 7 months before that).

After the first trimester, my energy was great and stayed that way until delivery. I hardly experienced swelling, heartburn, and my demeanor throughout was really quite happy. I also slept great the entire time! I know expecting mothers hear many horror stories about how bad pregnancy can get, and I had no complaints. I believe that my diet was a factor in that. My midwife did not discourage my diet choices (vegan/vegetarian), as I know some doctors are prone to doing. She did aid me in making sure I was taking the right supplements, prenatal vitamins and encouraged I make healthy choices with food based on my diet. I appreciated her non-judgmental care when it came to my diet choices - my midwife was absolutely amazing.

However, once my son was born, I knew I needed to shape up my diet to help not only myself but also my newborn son whom I was breastfeeding. Our pediatrician came to visit us in the hospital he asked about my diet. I told him I was planning on returning to a vegan diet. He did not recommend this diet and proceeded to tell me the different benefits in eggs, dairy, etc. However, I knew what felt right for my body and with a healthy plant based diet I could give my son exactly what he needed.

At his two week appointment, my son had already surpassed his birth weight by nearly two pounds and had added another inch in height.

Here is what makes me super proud - at his recent two month appointment my son weighed 15.5 lbs and measured 25 ¾ in (~7 lbs gained, 3 3/4 in gained). These measurements are both in the 98% percentile. I was so proud of him! I knew after seeing these measurements (and seeing him grow and develop everyday) that being plant-based is the absolute right choice for me and my sweet baby. At this past appointment, our pediatrician did not mention my diet choices - they spoke for themselves.

To me, it really feels like a tremendous accomplishment as a first time mom breastfeeding to know how well he is doing.

Since my son’s birth, I have lost 29 of the 35 pounds I gained during my pregnancy. I have great energy and have been able to return to running. I have recently run my first 10K since Vincent was born which was a huge goal for me! I want to be an example to my child that being plant based and active is a great lifestyle to lead.

Thank you so much Jessica for sharing your story with us!

Update (Nov. 2014)

Since writing to Lindsay and Happy Herbivore in September, our sweet boy has continued to amaze us and make us proud. We love to see how he is starting to perceive the world around him and especially love his laugh. Vincent recently had his 4 month appointment and now weighs 18 lb 10 oz and measures 27 inches (3+ lbs gained and ~2 in gained since his 2 month check-up). His weight is in the 95th percentile and height in 97th percentile. He is still exclusively getting breast milk and is such a great eater. At 2 ½ months he also got his first two teeth! At his appointment the nurse took one look at him and asked us, “What are you feeding this kid??” Safe to say he is looking very healthy! We are grateful that Vincent has been very healthy since birth, and as time goes on I can tell how much being plant-based has influenced his good health and mine.

I’ve also continued to feel great post-baby. I’ve lost 32 of the 35 lbs I gained during pregnancy, and I strongly feel like I have being plant-based to thank for that! I’m back at work and adjusting to my new life as a working mom and trying to run as often as I can. I recently ran a relay race and have signed up for other races ranging from 5K to a half marathon for the coming year!

At this stage, Vincent will continue to be plant-based since he’s breastfed and is doing such a great job with it. When it’s time to introduce foods to him, they will be plant-based as well. I hope he loves veggies as much as I do! As he grows up and is able to make decisions about food for himself that may not be vegan or plant-based, we will re-evaluate. I hope until that time my husband and I can continue to be good examples to Vincent while being plant-based and active. I can only imagine there will be many obstacles for us to face as parents trying to raise a plant-based child, but for now we are enjoying every moment of him being our little baby!