A Beautiful Pregnancy Begins with the Right Relationship

By Anabela Mok 2022-07-15 10:39:34

When I first met Vivian Zhang, I was trying out her new restaurant Carrot and Cleaver at the Shanghai Centre. Although in our earlier conversation she mentioned she was expecting her first child, her small frame hardly gave any hint she was five-months into her pregnancy.

Vivian is a vegan by choice. Nine years ago she transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle to stay healthier and also to help animals suffering in the world. She is the founder and chef of the popular plant-based restaurant Miss Green that opened its first store in Taipei in 2013 and in 2018, moved their headquarters to Shanghai. Hoping to forge a community for like-minded individuals who care, she finds it is important to create “a place for people to interact and learn how to use our own actions to influence and contribute to a better world for our next generation.”

When she found out that she would be a mum, finding an understanding doctor was a key part to deciding which hospital to go for her birth.

During her visit to Jiahui International Hospital she found “the doctor and the whole hospital is very open minded and very welcome to new generation trends. I was surprised and pleased to see so many plant- based food options when I met with my nutritionist. Doctors and nurse here are very professional, have patience and listen to my condition. They really give me a lot of comfort.”

Looking after Vivian is doctor Dr Lu Meng, “as an OBGYN doctor, we would like to establish relationship with our patients as friend. We like to listen her voice in most of time if this is good for her. Vivian is good to animals and personal belief should be respected. I hope herself and her baby can grow in a good mood.”

As a restaurant entrepreneur, it was important for Vivian to work with expert nutritionists to delivery healthy and nutrient dense food to customers. As an expectant mum, the advice from a nutritionist is even more critical as she needs to take care of her most important customer, her growing child. Dr Lu believes nutrition is an important part of pregnancy and “my responsibility is to keep the whole experience medical safe for her and encourages consultations with our nutritionist and talk her diet with the profession which herself can understand what she can do.”

Vivian agrees that the nutrition session in Jiahui International Hospital was very helpful and “my OBGYN always reminds me I have to eat less sugar and make sure I have enough food before bed, nuts and snacks help me to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).”

According to the experts from Jiahui Health’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, “in a healthy person, their dietary preferences would not be an issue at all. During their first prenatal visit we do review some food safety tips with our newly pregnant patients. Issues such listeria infection and mercury exposure related to certain foods are reviewed. If a patient already has a nutritionist, that’s great. There should not be much difference with regard to nutritional health recommendations during pregnancy. Our goals should all be the same, healthy mum and healthy baby. The most common circumstance in which doctors might intervene would be cases where the mother’s weight gain is at the extreme ends of low or high. Usually these cases are more for the mum’s overall health and would not necessarily be dangerous situations. In cases of diabetes, either pre-gestational or gestational diabetes, if the patient’s blood sugar is not well controlled we would intervene to prevent potential complications and more significant health concerns for the mum and baby.”

Lifestyle preferences are not uncommon when it comes to pregnancy.

Katrin Lee, Nutritionist at Jiahui International Hospital adds that “appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes”.

Jiahui Health advocates a four to one model, meaning that one obstetrician, one midwife or nurse, one anaesthesiologist and one paediatrician are present at every delivery. This ensures that our mothers-to- be and their newborns are kept safe and secure at all times. Other services include a midwife and a lactation clinic, as well as a nutrition clinic to help women with their eating habits during the pregnancy and support them in finding their way to their previous shape after birth. In addition, the genetic clinic at Jiahui Health provides testing services to help prevent neonatal defects.

For the naturally healthy Vivian, “doctors were very surprised by the high amount of fibre and protein that I have each day, my diet has a wide range of whole grain and beans also a lot of green vegetables that really helps me ease the bloating and gas during pregnancy.”

Bringing a child into the world takes a team of specialists. Working with the delivery team during this precious time is crucial for making sure that not only is the mum’s health is monitored but also her wishes are respected and having pregnancy care tailored for her needs. Maintaining a relationship with a doctor is critical, and as Dr Lu mentions, “Just like your other valued relationships with your friends and loved ones, your relationship with your OBGYN needs to be built on trust and respect. It begins with open, honest communication as that trust is built. For both you and your doctor, if things are not clear, it is far better to ask than to assume. If you do not understand what your doctor is saying, do not be afraid to tell them and ask them to explain better. Make your fears and priorities well known to your doctor. Likewise, if there is something that your doctor is doing that you do not like, do not be afraid to tell them.”

Vivian says her healthy lifestyle also challenged traditional norms of pregnancy well- being, “during weeks 15-22 I found pre-natal yoga is not enough exercise for me, I needed to sign up for regular yoga classes, and because of my high fibre and protein plant-based diet I require more cardio exercise, like running. I also consume a lot of smoothies, cold drinks, and a lot of lettuces during my pregnancy which traditionally can be seen as a red flag, but that is how I feel great and energized. My doctor and nutritionist are very open minded about this, and even encourage me to listen to my body and to do what I know is best for me and my baby. This open-minded level of trust and respect of me coupled with clear expert advice is why I chose Jiahui International Hospital.” She adds, having a doctor who is open minded and “understands everyone is unique and has different needs is very important, having grown up and lived in many cultures while being vegan for so many years, my body and mind have developed quite differently, so some of the traditional methods of what pregnant women should or shouldn’t do will not apply”.

For Vivian, she understands how hard it can be to get a well-balanced and healthy diet in our hectic lives, which is why she founded the plant-based food brand Miss Green, empowering people that aren’t willing to give up the taste of the food they love but want to eat healthy and be environmentally conscious, “especially now, hope for the future is more important to me than ever. What kind of world do we want to leave to our children?”


Dr Amanda Lu

Dr. Lu currently serves as Deputy Chief of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at Jiahui International Hospital. Prior to joining Jiahui Health, she worked at the Women and Children’s Center at Shanghai General Hospital affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University for many years, and overall has more than 10 years of clinical and teaching experience in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Katrin Lee

Clinical Nutritionist at Jiahui Health.


Jiahui International Hospital

Address: 689 Guiping Road

Tel: 400 868 3000