Support vegetarian mothers, nurses told
Glencill Taylor, Asst Nutrition Officer, wants nurses to support vegetarian mothers.
Rastafarians, Seventh Day Adventists, vegans and other vegetarians can get all the nutrients necessary to have a healthy baby once they eat well-balanced meals and consult with nutrition professionals.
Therefore a call is being made by Acting Assistant Nutrition Officer, Glencill Taylor, for nurses to support pregnant women who subscribe to a vegetarian diet.
Recognising the myth believed by some persons including nurses, that vegetarians eat only or mostly vegetables, she assured, once a vegetarian mother gets a varied diet and supplements appropriately, there should be no problem.
“Once they understand how to plan their meals well they will get the variety necessary in their diets… So we really want to encourage the referral to a nutrition professional in the clinic and I would say for all pregnant vegetarians.”
Having been vegan while pregnant with a twin, Taylor spoke from a place of knowledge and personal experience.
She placed a great focus on regularity as “important”. She urged nurses to refer patients to nutritionists because nutrition professionals tend to probe more. She said where a nurse may accept “I does eat eggs. I does use milk,” on the other hand, the nutrition professional will ask “How often? Because an egg once a month or a dash of milk in tea on the morning to make it change colour slightly from black, is not enough.”
Taylor further begged the nurses not to get frustrated with this cohort of mothers and she especially asked them to accept their choice whether their reason for choosing a vegetarian diet is religious or personal.
She told the nurses gathered at the International Day of the Midwife seminar under the theme ‘Midwives, Mothers and Families, partners for life’, “For individuals, who are working in the hospital in particular, you will find that vegetarian mothers would then want to say, ‘I don’t eat this or that. What is in there?’ They are very picky… So then you will have to support these persons in different ways.”
Noting that the few she encountered in the polyclinic system were “pretty informed”, she said one challenge, which arises is that during pregnancy some women “don’t tolerate some foods.
“If you find that an individual is not tolerating some food, we have to help them make adequate substitutes for those foods or else the person would not be adequately nourished…
“Make appropriate substitutes. You substitute from within the same group. If a person does not have peas, substituting with vegetables is not appropriate. So if you were supposed to have lentils, and you don’t have lentils and you use black beans, that’s an appropriate substitute.
“That is where we want to say that referring them to a nutrition professional will be important.”
But she stressed for nurses to refrain to trying to dissuade vegetarians or to try to coerce them to use meat because protein is “not difficult to get in the [vegetarian] diet. It’s not hard.”
However, she asked nurses to consider affordability. Saying that she’s not seeking to make it seem that the vegetarian diet is expensive, she implored nurses to know their clients and make recommendations that they can afford.
Taylor said that if the number of vegetarian mothers grows or if nurses see a demand for it, her agency would seek to create a handbook or booklet to guide these mothers in the future as well.