Can Vegans Breastfeed? What you need to know

what to eat after child birth

We've got good news for all the vegans out there; you can absolutely breastfeed when following a vegan diet. And what's better is that breastmilk itself is vegan, too, so you can rest easy knowing your little one isn't harming any animals (besides the nipple pain!).


Keep in mind that an exclusively breastfed baby receives 100% of their nutrition through your breastmilk. So eating a wide variety of healthy foods, including some fortified foods, will be vital in ensuring your little one's needs are met.



Do vegans breastfeed?

Although some vegans choose to abstain from breastfeeding, most believe that the act of breastfeeding does not interfere with their beliefs. This is because breastfeeding doesn't fit into any of the categories when you break down the reasons behind why people choose veganism.


Veganism isn't just a diet; many vegans choose not to eat or drink any animal products and ensure no items in their wardrobe, furniture, makeup, and more. Ethical vegans avoid using or purchasing any items that have involved the non-consensual use of animals. This includes things like leather shoes and belts or makeup that have been tested on animals.


So if you're a dietary vegan, ethical vegan or both, breastfeeding doesn't impact any of the values associated. No animals are being harmed in the process, and no measures are being taken to produce milk in mothers.


Composition of vegan and vegetarian breastmilk


It is known that the nutritional composition of breast milk is, to a certain extent, related to maternal diet. The question of the nutritional adequacy of mothers' milk is often raised whenever a vegetarian or vegan diet during the lactation process is concerned. For this reason, in some countries, the recruitment of vegan lactating women as milk donors is excluded by milk banks. The purpose of this systematic review is to summarize existing knowledge on the variability of specific nutrients in breastmilk of mothers adhering to a plant-based diet. The databases, including MEDLINE (Pubmed) and Scopus, were used to identify relevant publications. Data extraction and analysis were conducted following a PRISMA protocol. Thirteen publications concerning the impact of dietary patterns and levels of animal-origin food intake on breast milk composition were included. The systematic review has shown that all non-vegetarian, vegetarian and vegan mothers produce breast milk of comparable nutritional value. Several differences are primarily attributed to fatty acids and some micro-components, primarily vitamin B12. Regardless of dietary choices, nourishment and adequate nutrition have a significant impact on human milk composition - on the basis of the current evidence, vegetarian and vegan mothers are capable of producing nutritionally valuable milk for their infants, as far as the appropriate supplementation compensating for breastfeeding mother's nutritional requirements is provided. Dietary choices should not be a permanent exclusion criterion for donor candidates in human milk banks.


Mothers require additional vitamins and minerals while they're breastfeeding to support their own needs, as well as their infants. So if vegan women are struggling to meet their increased need for nutrients like iron, zinc and vitamin B12, they may find they also need to incorporate a supplement into their diet.


How can vegetarian and vegan breastfeeding mums get enough protein?

Vegetarian and vegan diets are safe for breastfeeding women. However, women who don’t eat animal products still need to ensure they’re hitting their protein target by eating a wide variety of foods.

The average protein requirement for a breastfeeding woman is around 1 gram per kg of body weight. So, for a woman who weighs 70kg she needs 70 grams of protein per day.


Tofu, tempeh, and nuts are all fantastic protein sources for vegan and vegetarian women. However, as there are fewer high protein options for plant-based women, they may find it’s easier to hit their target by incorporating protein powder into their diet. In addition, choosing a breastfeeding-specific protein powder, like In Shape Mummy is vital because the ingredients in the powder will pass through your breastmilk onto your little one. 


Here's an example of a high-protein breakfast smoothie for a vegetarian/vegan.



What’s the best protein powder for breastfeeding?

Not only do you need to choose a protein powder designed for breastfeeding women, but you also need to make sure it doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients that could potentially harm your baby. For example, many off-the-shelf protein powders are full of nasty additives and sugar. And, hidden sugar and harmful substances is the last thing post-partum women want, especially when making healthy choices.


Finding a formula designed to support breastfeeding women’s nutritional needs is the safest way to ensure your milk supply isn’t affected. The In Shape Mummy Health Shake for Breastfeeding Mums provides women with a good serving of protein. It also contains over 25 vitamins and minerals, probiotics for gut health, and galactagogues, which are herbs that have been used for centuries to support milk production. And the best thing is they don’t contain any added sugar or artificial nasties.



How can the In Shape Mummy Health Shake help me hit my increased nutritional needs while breastfeeding?

The In Shape Mummy Health Shake is a vegan superfood meal replacement developed to help breastfeeding mums meet their increased nutritional needs.  A premium blend of organic pea & brown rice protein, 25 vitamins and minerals, probiotics plus organic superfoods help you get a healthier body while boosting your energy levels and supporting your milk supply. They are enhanced with organic milk thistle and fenugreek which are herbs that have been used for centuries to support breastfeeding. Plus, probiotics help strengthen your baby's immune system.

Incorporating the In Shape Mummy Health Shake into your diet is a great way to up your daily protein intake. Each serving of shake contains around 12g of protein. We recommended having two shakes per day, so this will equal approximately a total of 24g of protein.


Extra Support

Join the In Shape Mummy Breastfeeding Support Group, and meet other like minded mums and get health tips, recipes and inspiration.

Shevi is a qualified nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and food sciences. As a new mum herself, she is passionate about postnatal-related nutrition. Shevi has worked alongside some of the most famous leaders and celebrities in the fitness industry throughout Australia and the UK.

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