The Sistah Vegan Project

Archive for the category “Pregnancy & Breastfeeding”

Sistah Vegan Pregnancy Nutritional Method: Gifting a healthier and more holistic pregnancy and postpartum experience

Sistah Vegan would like to offer a wonderful gift idea for the 2013 holiday season: Please consider giving the gift of a healthier and more holistic pregnancy and postpartum period through the Sistah Vegan Pregnancy Nutritional Method.

If you are like most folk who have listened to mainstream media in the USA, you have heard of the sensationalized stories once or twice a year, of a mother who ‘killed’ her child ‘because’ she was vegan. If you have had interest in getting pregnant and/or having a vegan pregnancy, you may have been ‘attacked’ by supposedly loving family members and ‘concerned’ midwives or practitioners that such a diet is ‘dangerous’ and ‘irresponsible.’

These are all lies, as myself and a plethora of women and their children are living proof that a properly planned vegan pregnancy and lactation period will help you and your baby thrive. Don’t listen to the hype. Below are photos of my 2.5 year old daughter, Eva Luna. She was ‘built’ by a whole foods vegan diet. In addition, you are looking at a glowing and healthy baby in which over 85% of her ‘food’ source came from my vegan-produced breast milk, the first 13 months of her life. She was 9.5lb at birth and full term. 6 hour labor.

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You may be scared. You may be confused. Or maybe you do have the confidence to practice a vegan pregnancy, but do not know where to begin. The Sistah Vegan project is offering an on demand pre-recored webinar with powerpoint slides with the following:

* Guaranteed plant based remedy/prevention for prenatal anemia
* Learn this simple herbal remedy to prevent hemorrhoids
* Learn what simple seed can increase hydration, energy, and calcium
* Learn the top four plant based proteins essential for pregnancy
* Constipation is NOT ‘normal’, despite the myth. Learn how to poop 2-3x a day while pregnant.

You will be able to play the recordings and download notes and slides whenever you want to. In this webinar you will learn what you need to get started on your path to an amazing and fulfilling plant-based dietary pregnancy and post-partum lactation period. If you are at the end of your pregnancy but want to learn how a whole foods plant-based Sistah Vegan diet can help you produce optimal milk supply for an infant, then this webinar is also for you. In addition, post-partum hair loss is significant amongst women; many tell me that years after giving birth, they struggle with hair loss and thinning. I will teach you how a few herbs and foods can regrow and strengthen your hair.

Date: You can Download it anytime.

Cost: $25.99

How to pay and download: Click REGISTER to register, pay, and download.

Duration: 2 hours.

Technology requirements: a computer with a fast internet connection and a free Anymeeting.com (my webinars are hosted through Any meeting.com)

About the Instructor: Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a research fellow in the Dept of Human Ecology at UC Davis. She is also the director and founder of the Sistah Vegan Project, a organization dedicated to critical race feminist perspectives on veganism, as seen through the collective experiences of Black North American females. Dr. Harper started the project in 2005. She holds degrees from Dartmouth College, Harvard University, and University of California-Davis. Her innovative ability to integrate the use of educational technologies to analyze Black female vegans food and health philosophies earned her the Dean’s Award from Harvard University in 2007 for her Master Thesis work: this is an honor only bestowed upon one candidate per program.

Dr. Harper’s knowledge about diversity within the field of food and wellness has marked her as a highly sought after paid consultant and speaker for many American universities. She has given many keynote addresses including at Boston University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Oregon, and Southwestern University. She teaches students, faculty, and staff how and why people have unique relationships to food and wellness and how these relationships are impacted by race, socio-economic class, gender, sexuality, and ability. She has published extensively, including Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010). She graduated summa cum-laude from University of California-Davis with a PhD in critical geographies of race and food.

If you enjoy the work I have done, if it has helped you, your organization, your students, your family, etc, and you want to see it go to the next level of a non-profit social justice organization, please contribute what you can by clicking on the GOFUNDME Link below. When Sistah Vegan becomes a well supported non-profit, I hope to offer a diversity of educational material (webinars, workshops, books, articles) that guide people through ways to raise pre-school aged children on a fun and healthy plant-based diet.  If you do not want to use this method, but prefer paypal, click on the link on the right upper corner of this blog page to donate via PAYPAL.

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Disclaimer: I am not a certified practitioner or medical doctor. Please consult with your practitioner before trying any of the foods or herbs that I recommend

The Adventures of Sistah Vegan’s Postpartum Belly and Public Displays of Stretch Marks

As promised, I am continuing my post-partum blog series. I have a very no holds barred approach to talking about my body, pregnancy, nursing, etc. Below is a video of what many of our bodies look like, especially after having a few biological children. I am really quite sick of so many of us ladies being told that we should be ashamed of our post-partum bellies/bodies, that we should hide our stretch marks, or even be pressured to do plastic surgery to make others happy so they don’t have to be ‘disgusted’ by the natural transformations that pregnant bodies go through in the USA.

Enjoy the video below!

And if you want to know more about my Sistah Vegan superfoods pregnancy and nursing nutritional regiment, go here. 

Nameless Baby Harper-Zahn, 1.5 weeks old.

Nameless Baby Harper-Zahn, 1.5 weeks old.

The Adventures of Breeze’s Yoni: On My Labor of Love and Birthing at Home

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This is me, November 4, 2013, the day I went into labor. This is the belly. That is, the belly that 9 out of 10 strangers confidently told me, “You’re having a boy? You are shaped like you are having a boy!” I couldn’t really argue, as I was shaped exactly the same way with my son (pointy and low). With my daughter (2nd child), I carried her “wide”. So, it would make sense that that belly above was carrying another boy. Oh, and I craved tomatoes during the entire pregnancy, a sure sign that I’m having a boy.

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Sun (4 years old) and Eva Luna (2 years old) giving the baby a kiss of love on November 3, 2013 at San Francisco Zen Center at Green Gulch.

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Me in the birthing pool at our home. I look relaxed, but that’s because I’m in between those sucky crappy contractions.

Active labor started at around November 5, 2013 1217am. Perfect timing, as my mother in law had arrived 4 hours before, from Germany.

My husband was the perfect birthing partner. At the very end, when I really thought I didn’t have the strength to push anymore, he was sitting behind me, holding me, as I sat on the birthing stool…and he was shoving the finest organic vegan fair trade chocolate into my mouth to give me energy. And he made me 2 or 3 Garden of Life Raw protein drinks with banana and Yerba Mate. My mother in law also had brought some yummy vegan organic gummy bears from Munich, Germany, and those gave me energy too.

This labor was easier than my 1st, but harder than my 2nd. It was 7 hours long, but the contractions were quite unbearable because the baby was turned the ‘wrong way’. She kept on pressing up against my tail bone area and the pain was intense, but then my husband would push his hands against my back whenever I was having the contractions and that made it feel a lot better. Seriously, it’s during those intense moments of discomfort that I ask myself, “Um, why am I putting myself through this again!?” And yea, I’ll be honest, several times I  told my husband, “I don’t think I can do this. I don’t have the energy. Just take me to the hospital and have them do the rest.”

But, my wonderful husband/birthing partner and my birthing team , Sacred Birth Place from Oakland, CA, were amazing. No surprise, as they helped deliver our first two kids at our home as well. My husband and the birthing team of two midwives and a doula encouraged me and let me know that I can do it and will have the energy to bring my baby into the world. And sorry if this is too much information, but what I love about home birthing is that you can eat eat eat. In the hospital, you are not allowed to eat; you get ‘energy’ from an IV. Hell no, not for me. With home birthing you have to be comfortable with being naked around everyone (not problem with me, as if it were legal, I’d be in the nude all the time). But you also have to understand that when you push push push push, it’s like you’re taking the biggest dump in the world… and in fact, you are pooping while you are pushing. The birthing team takes care of that, cleans you up, and I love that comfort that they have. I think the reason that the most hospitals don’t let you eat while in labor is because they fear that if you must have a C section, you should not have food in your tummy…and, I guess they just think that pooping while pushing is “gross” (?).

By 630am I was fully dilated.  I pushed the baby’s head out at around 712am, while on the birthing stool. I thought my ass was done. The crowning was done, the head was out, and I was exhausted… but then my midwife commanded me to quickly get on the bed on all fours and push the baby out (as the other position was not as efficient). I almost said, “Screw you!” I was so tired and now I had to crawl on the bed on all fours and push some more!?

But, with the help of my husband, doula, and other midwife, I got up on the bed and with one big final push, the baby came out. 8lb 6oz, 21 inches long. 718am.

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Me and Baby 2 days postpartum. I no longer look busted or like I have been completely depleted after trying to push a watermelon that was in a posterior position, out of my yoni….

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Baby and Eva Luna debating about whose poop smells worse…

Oh, and by the way, everyone was wrong about the shape of my belly coinciding with the genitalia of the baby: Baby number 3 came out with a yoni “down there.”

Nope, we haven’t named her yet. She goes by “Baby”. But, I do like sound of Spirulina Kale Harper- Zahn. I basically built her on those super foods :-) Here is the full vegan pregnancy and lactation nutritional regimen that I recommend. It’s the Sistah Vegan pregnancy nutrition method and you should experience great results. Yes, consult your practitioner before trying anything I recommend. I just wanted to note that I did not have any of these that so many women and girls experience during pregnancy in the USA:

  • pre-eclampsia
  • gestational diabetes
  • anemia
  • tremendous weight gain
  • edema
  • hypertension
  • pre-osteoporosis
  • varicose veins
  • constipation
  • hemorrhoids

And I owe it to the Sistah Vegan nutritional method for pregnancy!

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Stretch marks, bikini pregnancy, and public displays of belly affection

 

 

This is my third pregnancy. I like to show what my growing womb looks like. I have met a lot of women who say that they were ashamed to show their bellies because of stretch marks, discoloration, and weight gain. I know body issues are complex thing, and pregnancy and post-partum body changes come with a whole host of issues that many of us in the USA struggle with.

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Dr. A. Breeze Harper, Third Trimester, Bolinas CA Fall 2013 with her two year daughter, Eva Luna.

I have chosen not to hide my belly and wear a bikini whenever we make our weekend trips to our California beaches. I get a lot of comments from people who have never seen a real live pregnant belly in the nude. Some folks have even enjoyed the pleasure of watching the baby moving vigorously under the skin. I get appreciations from women and girls mostly, who thank me for showing them what it looks like. I also get comments like, “Wow, I don’t think I would ever be confident enough to do that.” It’s too bad that I get comments like this, as it really reflects a society that can be very rigid and cruel in teaching girls and women that they should be ashamed of displaying their bodies in public, if they don’t meet an acceptable standard of size and shape. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had and struggled with these issues like most females throughout my life, and admit that I did have shame and embarrassment about my body during the post-partum period after giving birth to my first child. But, since then, I have become gentle, loving, and kind to myself; I am still decolonizing my mind around public displays of body, skin, bellies, etc., but I have come a long way. And I feel like when people see what some pregnant bellies and bodies can look like, while in public, I can start talking about it without shame, but with love and and acceptance. I used to be so ashamed of my permanent stretch marks, as they have increased more with each pregnancy. But now I simply don’t care what people may or may not think.

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I gained 41 pounds during this pregnancy.  I have several weeks left, so I assumed I’ll probably gain about 4 or 5 more pounds from my plant/mineral based diet packed with hemp seeds, spirulina, kale, olive oil, tempeh, okra, maca, nettles, algae based calcium, and vegan dha to name a few. My babies have been ‘big’. Sun was 8.5lb and Luna 9.5lb. Will this one be 10+? My friend did all vegan pregnancies. Her third and last baby was home birthed at 10lb 13 oz. Wow!

We are having a third home birth. I assume it will be easy. I am a pro at this! November 10 is my due date. Folk often ask what I eat during my pregnancies. Here is more information about that here: pregnancy nutrition.

Anyway, I just wanted to share.

Morning sickness sucks! Try this plant-based remedy!

For more information about achieving a plant-based dietary pregnancy, you can click here.

 

 

 

Abortion as the “Kinder Choice”: Able-Bodied Rhetoric, Veganism, and Reproductive Ethics

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I am stating my social and ability position right now: I am an ‘able-bodied’ USA born woman and have been ‘able-bodied’ my entire life. I know I benefit from structural ableism, and as a child and younger adult, I was unaware of just how much being constructed as an ‘able-bodied’ human being ‘earned’ me privileges of being seen as ‘productive’

In addition, I have had slim-body privilege my entire adult life. I bring this up because ‘being fat’ or ‘obese’ has really shifted in the USA over the past decade: it is now common for a significant number of medical and alternative health communities to suggest that ‘being fat’ equals ‘disabled body’ which are then constructed  as being ‘inferior’ and ‘impure.’ 

I actually want to start a spin-off dialogue about what it means for able-bodied vegans to construct being “kinder” with “harmlessness” (principles of Ahimsa based veganism) and then making the argument that a life of “living with a disability” would be “cruel”; hence, if one can “prevent” this “happening” to a fetus (in utero), they should seriously consider abortion.

“But that said, I do think that sometimes there are times when abortion may be a kinder choice. Sometimes there might be medical reasons for an abortion. Maybe the unborn child gets diagnosed with a really severe disability which will mean a very unhappy and/or short life for the child. ” -emily

Thank you for those of you who joined the discussion “Vegans: Are you ‘pro-life’, ‘pro-choice’, or have an alternative perspective on abortion?” that I posted on June 25, 2013.  The quote above was one of over 40 comments posted on the June 25 blog topic. It made me think of several things:

  • Who determines what a ‘really severe’ disability is?
  • Is a life of happiness only possible if a fetus is determined to meet some benchmark of ‘healthy’?
  • Most importantly, are you a person who was born as being diagnosed with a disability or disabilities, and how has this lived experienced, as well as living in a society of structural ableism (at least here in the USA) informed your own sense of Ahimsa, kindness, living a life of happiness etc, as well as the argument by able-bodied people about promoting abortion for “disabled” fetuses?

Even though Emily’s statement is focusing on ‘severe disability’, I do not know much about Emily. After all, emily could be a person living with disability too, but I’m wondering if this person speaks from the positionality of not being ‘diagnosed’ as ‘severely disabled’.  Furthermore, and even though it is not completely the same premise that reflects Emily’s comments, I have found the rhetoric of ableism quite pervasive in the mainstream vegan movement in the USA. There is an overal fear of how certain eating habits will or will not create a ‘pure’ or ‘impure’ human being. Such ‘purity’ rhetoric not only focuses on ‘disability’, but also traits such as ‘being tall’ and  ‘being slender’ as being an ‘abled body’. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I come across these assumptions about what makes a ‘superior’ or ‘healthy child, particularly through dietary habits amongst those who practice veganism, vegetarianism, and raw foods:

  • Eating a plant-based diet has been shown to increase IQ, so be sure to go vegan or vegetarian while pregnant! (What you’re really saying—> Because only ‘smart’ children, whose intellect is based on a socially constructed test, are most productive and contribute the most to society)
  • Eating a plant-based diet rich in protein and greens has been proven to make sure your child will be tall and slender (What you’re really saying—? Because short and/or children who are ‘fat’ are not going to be happy and are not superior to tall slender children).

(Updated on July 6, 8:35 am PST) So, here’s the thing: I am not asking people to necessarily start a dialogue about whether or not the person carrying an embryo or fetus SHOULD OR SHOULD not abort. This post is more about how particular regions, cultures, eras, etc., in the USA PRODUCE rhetoric around who is ‘normal’, ‘healthy’, and ‘able-bodied. Hence how does this normalized rhetoric influence our perceptions and ethical belief systems when making choices about their pregnancy and birthing? How does this influence how we perceive and relate to themselves (whether they have been ‘diagnosed’ as an abled bodied or a disabled bodied person)? This dialogue, doesn’t have to be focused on the pro-choice and pro-life debate, but rather, it can also engage in serious and mindful dialogue around the reality that here in the USA at least, there is a strong rhetoric of ‘fear’ and ‘panic’ when potential human beings (embryo and fetuses), as well as living ‘post-birth’ human beings, do not fit into socially accepted norms of ‘able-bodied’.

So, let’s talk about this, and I’m going to ask, if you are comfortable, to state you social and ability locations like I did. If you are unfamiliar with the goals of Sistah Vegan, we seriously engage in how our social, geographical, etc locations affect our experiences, consciousness, and how we view our reality.

In addition, if you’re interested in hearing more about applications of disability studies and vegan studies, I invite you to join the first annual Sistah Vegan conference, which takes place as an interactive web conference on September 14, 2013. Click here to learn more about it: Sistah Vegan Conference, September 14 2013. 
If you enjoy the work of the Sistah Vegan Project, please help us become an official non-profit organization. Please contribute what you can by clicking on the GOFUNDME Link below. If you do not want to use this method, but prefer paypal, click on the link on the right upper corner of this blog page to donate via PAYPAL.

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Introduction to Vegan Pregnancy and Lactation Nutrition: A Sistah Vegan Exclusive Online Seminar

If you are like most folk who have listened to mainstream media in the USA, you have heard of the sensationalized stories once or twice a year, of a mother who ‘killed’ her child ‘because’ she was vegan. If you have had interest in getting pregnant and/or having a vegan pregnancy, you may have been ‘attacked’ by supposedly loving family members and ‘concerned’ midwives or practitioners that such a diet is ‘dangerous’ and ‘irresponsible.’

These are all lies, as myself and a plethora of women and their children are living proof that a properly planned vegan pregnancy and lactation period will help you and your baby thrive. Don’t listen to the hype. Below are photos of my baby daughter, Eva Luna. She was ‘built’ by a whole foods vegan diet. In addition, you are looking at a glowing and healthy baby in which over 85% of her ‘food’ source came from my vegan-produced breast milk, the first 13 months of her life. She was 9.5lb at birth and full term. 6 hour labor.

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You may be scared. You may be confused. Or maybe you do have the confidence to practice a vegan pregnancy, but do not know where to begin. The Sistah Vegan project is offering an on demand pre-recored webinar with powerpoint slides with the following:

* Guaranteed plant based remedy/prevention for prenatal anemia
* Learn this simple herbal remedy to prevent hemorrhoids
* Learn what simple seed can increase hydration, energy, and calcium
* Learn the top four plant based proteins essential for pregnancy
* Constipation is NOT ‘normal’, despite the myth. Learn how to poop 2-3x a day while pregnant.

You will be able to play the recordings and download notes and slides whenever you want to. In this webinar you will learn what you need to get started on your path to an amazing and fulfilling plant-based dietary pregnancy and post-partum lactation period. If you are at the end of your pregnancy but want to learn how a whole foods plant-based Sistah Vegan diet can help you produce optimal milk supply for an infant, then this webinar is also for you. In addition, post-partum hair loss is significant amongst women; many tell me that years after giving birth, they struggle with hair loss and thinning. I will teach you how a few herbs and foods can regrow and strengthen your hair.

Date: You can Download it anytime.

Cost: $25.99

How to pay and download: Click REGISTER to register, pay, and download.

Duration: 2 hours.

Technology requirements: a computer with a fast internet connection and a free Anymeeting.com (my webinars are hosted through Any meeting.com)

About the Instructor: Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a research fellow in the Dept of Human Ecology at UC Davis. She is also the director and founder of the Sistah Vegan Project, a organization dedicated to critical race feminist perspectives on veganism, as seen through the collective experiences of Black North American females. Dr. Harper started the project in 2005. She holds degrees from Dartmouth College, Harvard University, and University of California-Davis. Her innovative ability to integrate the use of educational technologies to analyze Black female vegans food and health philosophies earned her the Dean’s Award from Harvard University in 2007 for her Master Thesis work: this is an honor only bestowed upon one candidate per program.

Dr. Harper’s knowledge about diversity within the field of food and wellness has marked her as a highly sought after paid consultant and speaker for many American universities. She has given many keynote addresses including at Boston University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Oregon, and Southwestern University. She teaches students, faculty, and staff how and why people have unique relationships to food and wellness and how these relationships are impacted by race, socio-economic class, gender, sexuality, and ability. She has published extensively, including Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010). She graduated summa cum-laude from University of California-Davis with a PhD in critical geographies of race and food.

If you enjoy the work I have done, if it has helped you, your organization, your students, your family, etc, and you want to see it go to the next level of a non-profit social justice organization, please contribute what you can by clicking on the GOFUNDME Link below. When Sistah Vegan becomes a well supported non-profit, I hope to offer a diversity of educational material (webinars, workshops, books, articles) that guide people through ways to raise pre-school aged children on a fun and healthy plant-based diet.  If you do not want to use this method, but prefer paypal, click on the link on the right upper corner of this blog page to donate via PAYPAL.

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Disclaimer: I am not a certified practitioner or medical doctor. Please consult with your practitioner before trying any of the foods or herbs that I recommend

Vegans: Are you ‘pro-life’, ‘pro-choice’, or have an alternative perspective on abortion?

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If you are a vegan, I am wondering: What are your personal beliefs around ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ in the context of humans, pregnancy, and abortion? 

This is probably the shortest blog post ever, but I’m curious about this question and would like to know, if you are vegan, what your stance is and how it ‘fits’ into your vegan philosophies.

The only reason I ask this is because I find it curious how ‘life’ is defined and how it is valued, in the human context and beyond. I remember running into a vegan man about 7 years ago who said he thought it was strange that certain human beings eat animals ‘without conscious’, but are hard-core ‘pro-life’ for pregnant humans. Alternatively, he found it ‘peculiar’ that many vegans who become vegan to abstain from killing/harming non-human animals are ‘pro-choice’ when it comes to their stance on human reproductive choice. He thought it was oxymoronic to be a pro-life meat-eater and a pro-choice vegan. However I’m not convinced at all that it is that simple and wanted to open up the dialogue about this amongst vegans.

And yea, I’ve met plenty of pro-choice meat eaters and pro-life vegans too.

So, let’s talk about this!

Please contribute what you can to the Sistah Vegan by clicking on the GOFUNDME Link below. This link will describe how and why I would like to take the Sistah Vegan Project to the next level: turning it into an official non-profit organization (501 c3). If you do not want to use GoFundMe, but prefer paypal, click on the link on the right upper corner of this blog page to donate via PAYPAL.

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‘Vegan’ shaming pregnant women for being ‘irresponsible’ for eating a well planned vegan diet

Yesterday, I received an email from a very frustrated pregnant vegan.
She gave me permission to share it. I invite you to read it and then read my response because I know this woman is not the only one who has dealt, is dealing, or will deal with such ignorance and ‘vegan shaming’ during pregnancy.

From: “L——-
Date: Jun 14, 2013 6:44 PM
Subject: Vegan Pregnancy
To:

Cc:

Hi there –

I found your information while doing some stress-googling related to my experience of being nutrition-shamed by midwives today. I’m a long-time vegan, and I want to have a homebirth. I have never, ever been as food-shamed as today, when I interviewed midwives, and I used to weigh 100 lbs more than I do now.

I knew I was getting into trouble when I walked in the door and saw a Weston Price book on the coffee table, and should have walked out right then and there. But I live in a relatively small community, and there aren’t many options for homebirth midwives, so I went ahead, and was told I was intentionally putting myself into a high-risk category by not eating animal protein. Not just told, but grilled, accused, shamed, demeaned, patronized, ridiculed, and dismissed. Not just by the first midwife. But also by the only two others in town who do homebirths. Got the trifecta! Like I said, I used to be fat. I have been fat-shamed with the best of them. And nothing, nothing at all has made me feel worse than that did today.

If the midwives are this bad, an OB/GYN will be worse. What can I do? What can I say? How can I defend myself and my diet and my choices? Do I have to move? Do you have any tools to use against this, or am I getting sent all the way out to vegan pasture to have an unsupervised homebirth?!

Your writing has made me feel much better today, and I appreciate you eternally for it.

Many thanks,
L——

——–

Dear L——

I am very sorry for such a dreadful experience. Their response is simply a reflection of ignorance and fear. I am just wondering what the midwives based their ‘information’ on, about the ‘dangers’ of vegan pregnancy. Did they hear about that one case that makes it in the news each year, of some vegan mother’s baby ‘dying’ and therefore, they concluded that it must have been the vegan diet? I have met so many people who ‘get off’ on these stories when they hear about them, emailing me the story as if it’s ‘proof’ that you cannot successfully have a vegan pregnancy or raise a child on a plant-based diet.

How can you defend yourself? I don’t think you really need to, and it is unfair that you are bullied and put into that position– especially since there are enough research and published materials that prove a well planned vegan diet during pregnancy is more than adequate for mom and baby. If they still bully you and shame you, despite this data, then they are being absolutely unprofessional. I am just wondering what they would say if you showed them Reed Mangel’s Vegan Pregnancy book or research that shows well-planed vegan pregnancies are fine for most women.

I wouldn’t assume all midwives and ob/gyns would have the same reaction as your first encounter with midwives did. It just depends on what practice you go to. My midwives had no problem with me doing a vegan pregnancy. My homebirth with my daughter was six hours long and baby was 9.5 lb. Why would my holistic diet of kale, hemp seeds, spirulina, algae based DHA, nettles tea, chia seeds, avocados, legumes, soy yogurt, quinoa, tempeh, walnuts, almond butter, collard greens, coconut manna, and vegan prenatal vitamins INCREASE my risk and the baby’s risk of having problems!? Such a diet is a powerhouse of protein, vitamins, EFAs, and minerals. To need to argue this with any supposed ‘professional’ midwife or a ob/gyn  practice is fruitless. If they are unwilling to realize or understand this, despite being shown the nutritional scientific breakdown of these foods as “stellar”, then it is a waste of time. They are filtering their reception of this information through layers of ignorance, fears, and anxieties that most of us in the USA are taught about anything that strays from eating animals. As a matter of fact, most allopathic practitioners are not even trained in more than 3 hours of nutrition during their entire med school experience, so by default, I don’t even take their ‘nutritional’ opinion too seriously when it comes to my dietary philosophies. Most won’t even support alternative parenting decisions such as using herbal remedies, questioning the efficacy and safety of vaccines, or even supporting a client’s decision to do a home-birth versus a hospital birth. My first ob/gyn dumped me during my first pregnancy during my 2nd trimester. I had told her that I was seeing a midwife as well and was pretty sure I wanted to do a homebirth; that the midwife had been practicing for over 20 years with excellent results. Instead of supporting me, she just guilted me by telling me how her best friend tried a homebirth, ‘things went wrong’, and now her baby has cerebral palsy. (sigh). At least she didn’t care I was vegan, but still, she released me from her practice, unwilling to accept that I wanted to work with both she and the midwife!

What to do, you ask? Well, where do you live? You spoke of maybe needing to move to find a more supportive practice. I am not sure where you live or what your options are. I know I had it easier since my midwives supported my vegan pregnancy and I live in the Bay area of California. Could you try finding a ob/gyn practice first that supports your vegan lifestyle and then go there with ‘evidence’ (nutritional science articles, books) that show how babies and moms are okay on a well-planned vegan diet? I am not sure what else you could do if that doesn’t work, as you should NOT have to move just to find a practitioner who supports your choice. Perhaps people reading this blog post can offer some useful tips for what they did and how they successfully found the support they wanted. I don’t know where you live and if you could be ‘reported’ or get in trouble. I don’t know how far someone would go to think you are ‘endangering’ you baby and report you. 

Overall, this just sounds like something no person should go through, when choosing to practice a diet that has been shown to reduce animal suffering as well as reduce a lot of diet-related illnesses and diseases associated with the consumption of animal-products. Those women’s responses to you just reflect an overal problem in the USA (and I’m assuming you’re speaking from the USA) in which structural speciesism is the norm. Unless you were born into a vegan household that emphasized compassion for animals, most of us were raised to believe the myth that we humans can only live if we eat animal products; that animals do not really ‘feel’ pain; that when a baby cow is taken from her mama, that mama cow is ‘just a mechanical animal’ and she has no feelings and won’t miss her child. I thought that way 15 years ago. It just seemed so ‘natural’ to think this way! I thought vegans and vegetarians made no sense!

Even though I had supportive midwives, I understand what you are going through, as I constantly have to listen to people- usually people who barely know me– tell me that my alternative pre-natal nutrition regiments, natural parenting style, nursing  on a vegan diet,  home-birthing, etc are all ‘dangerous’. Yet, my babies came into the world happy, healthy, and fine. Weight was always in the 95 percentile or higher. Had full term pregnancies. Never had hemorrhoids, gestational diabetes, calcium deficiency (#2 was born with 2 teeth!!!), iron was stabilized through plant-based iron sources, never had lactation problems (I was like a fountain), never had swelling, never developed hypertension, and even nursed my son until I was 35 weeks pregnant (I was ‘warned’ I’d develop osteoporosis if I dared to nurse while pregnant, despite me explaining to a practitioner that I have about 1200 mg of plant based calcium in the diet). As a matter of fact, someone who read my posting about vegan pregnancy posted that vegan pregnancies are ‘fine’, but homebirths are ‘dangerous’… and then they sent me a link to prove how dangerous it is. Once again, pure ignorance, even though the intention behind it was supposed to ‘protect’ me.

It”s all relative. Some women just have to do a hospital birth, due to their own unique situation and risk factors, while other women are fine with doing home birth or even unassisted birth. You just have to research everything well enough to know what is the BEST for you. And yea, that’s difficult when you don’t have the support you need from your own local community. I know you ask about resorting to an unassisted home birth. I cannot tell you what you should or should not do. However, I have an inspiring story for you. My friend is a vegan. His wife too. They both have two daughters: 2 and 3 years old. Both were not only home births, but the couple delivered their own babies at home. So, not impossible, but he and his wife researched and prepared to do this.

Here are some older blog posts from my site, and other, that may be useful:

  1. http://sistahvegan.com/2012/06/06/another-answer-to-nina-planck-reed-mangels-phenomenal-vegan-pregnancy-guide/
  2. http://sistahvegan.com/2011/06/22/part-ii-a-vegan-pregnancy-is-selfish-you-will-kill-you-baby/
  3. http://sistahvegan.com/2012/04/24/vegan-diets-can-be-risky-for-babies-and-kids-in-response-to-nina-plancks-nytimes-article/
  4. Preparing for a Vegan pregnancy: http://www.theveganwoman.com/preparing-for-another-vegan-pregnancy/
  5. The Vegan View: http://www.vegfamily.com/vegan-view/vegan-pregnancy.htm
  6. Our Vegan Pregnancy: http://ourveganpregnancy.blogspot.com/

If folk reading this article, or other work I have done, if it has helped folk, your organization, your students, your family, etc, and you want to see it go to the next level of a non-profit social justice organization, please contribute what you can by clicking on the GOFUNDME Link below. My non-profit will offer webinars and literature about reproductive health that are holistic and plant-based. If you do not want to use this method, but prefer paypal, click on the link on the right upper corner of this blog page to donate via PAYPAL.

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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or certified practitioner of health. Please consult your practitioner before trying anything on this suggestion list.

Ask Dr. Breeze: How do I increase my low pre-natal iron levels?

In this video, I suggest several plant based solutions to raise a pregnant woman’s low iron levels. This is particularly helpful for those of you searching for non-animal based options.

List of Ingredients You’ll Need:

  1. Floradix Iron + Herbs Liquid Extract Formula 17floz
  2. World Organic Chlorophyll Liquid 16 Oz
  3. A drink high in vitamin C, such as orange juice or grapefruit juice.

 Directions: Mix the Floradix and the Chlorophyll in a liquid source of vitamin C.

  • Weeks 18-25: 10ml of Floradix + 1/2 tbsp of Chlorophyll + vitamin C drink (take in the morning, on an empty stomach)
  • Weeks 25-42: In the morning take 10ml of Floradix + 1/2 tbsp of Chlorophyll + vitamin C drink on  an empty stomach;  in the Afternoon, take another 10ml of Floradix + 1/2 tbsp of Chlorophyll + vitamin C drink on  an empty stomach.
  • If taking a calcium supplement, wait 2 hours after taking the Floradix mixture. Iron and Calcium should not be taken together, as they impede assimilation.

About Dr. Harper: Dr. A. Breeze Harper is the director and founder of the Sistah Vegan Project, a organization dedicated to critical race feminist perspectives on veganism, as seen through the collective experiences of Black North American females. Dr. Harper started the project in 2005. She holds degrees from Dartmouth College, Harvard University, and University of California-Davis. Her innovative ability to integrate the use of educational technologies to analyze Black female vegans food and health philosophies earned her the Dean’s Award from Harvard University in 2007 for her Master Thesis work: this is an honor only bestowed upon one candidate per program.

Dr. Harper’s knowledge about diversity within the field of food and wellness has marked her as a highly sought after paid consultant and speaker for many American universities. She has given many keynote addresses including at Boston University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Oregon, and Southwestern University. She teaches students, faculty, and staff how and why people have unique relationships to food and wellness and how these relationships are impacted by race, socio-economic class, gender, sexuality, and ability. She has published extensively, including Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010). She graduated summa cum-laude from University of California-Davis with a PhD in critical geographies of race and food.

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I have been doing this work for years, and as much as I enjoy it, I can no longer do it for free. If you enjoy the work I have done, if it has helped you, your organization, your students, your family, etc, and you want to see it go to the next level of a non-profit social justice organization, please contribute what you can by clicking on the GOFUNDME Link below. If you do not want to use this method, but prefer paypal, click on the link on the right upper corner of this blog page to donate via PAYPAL.

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Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. Always consult with your practitioner before attempting anything suggested on the Sistah Vegan blog.

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