Protein plays an extremely important part in your pregnancy and the development of your baby. The amino acids which make up protein also form the basic building blocks of your body’s cells — which in turn also form the building blocks of your baby’s body too.
During the second and third trimester is when you should make sure your protein levels are where they should be, especially as this is when your baby will be growing it’s fastest and that means placing more demand on you for all his/her essential nutrients.
How much protein do you need during pregnancy?
It is recommended that during your pregnancy you should be consuming around 70 grams of protein per day, which is only about 25 grams more than what you would have needed prior to your pregnancy. The good news is that the average woman in America eats more than the recommended amount everyday and so you are probably already getting enough protein.
If you don’t eat meat, which is one of the main sources of protein – but definitely not the only, you will need to be sure that you are getting your protein requirements from other sources
Good sources of protein
There are many different sources of protein, so you shouldn’t really get bored with what you are eating. Foods such as beans, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, tofu, and yogurt, just to name a few. A good way to ensure that your protein intake is sufficient is to eat three or four servings of protein a day.
Each food portion listed below is the equivalent of one serving, which is about 20 grams of protein:
Beans, Nuts & Legumes
- 1 cup firm tofu or 1 1/4 cup soft tofu
- 5 or 6 tablespoons peanut butter
- 3 oz. peanuts
- 1 1/2 cups cooked beans such as: chickpeas, kidney beans, baked beans, pinto beans, refried beans, lentils or black beans
- three 8-oz. glasses soy milk
- 2/3 cup cottage cheese
- 2 cups yogurt
- 3 oz. Swiss, cheddar or most other cheeses
- 2 oz. Parmesan cheese
- 3 large eggs
- two and a half 8-oz. glasses milk
Meat and fish
- 3 oz. chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork, or veal
- 3 oz. salmon, trout, or tilapia
- 17 large shrimp or 1 1/2 cups baby shrimp
- 3 1/2 oz. lobster meat
- 3 1/2 oz. crab meat
- 3 oz. canned clams
Take Note: Not all fish is considered safe to consume during your pregnancy. Some predator fish contain methylmercury, a metal believed to be harmful in high doses to the growing brains of fetuses and young children. These fish include:
- King mackerel
For more information on fish during pregnancy, read our article on eating fish during pregnancy.