protein illustrated with red meat, yellow cheese, and green peas

Protein: the blueprints for Baby

Protein is composed of amino acids, which lay the foundation for every cell in the body- both yours and Baby’s! Pregnant moms are recommended to get at least 75 g (about three 3 oz. servings of meat) of protein/day.

How does protein help during pregnancy?

The amino acids found in protein really are the foundations for every cell in the body, so especially during pregnancy it’s important that you get a sufficient amount because now your protein intake has to support not just your own cell development, but Baby’s too! Skin, muscles, organs; just about everything found in the body is, at its base, constructed from proteins. Protein is essential for proper brain development, providing them with all the mental facilities they need to win a Nobel Prize or two. Protein also greatly helps you develop strong, healthy new cells as your body grows to accommodate your gestating bundle of joy.

What are some good sources of protein?

Most women who eat meat have no trouble getting their daily dose of protein, as meat is packed with it. Here are some good meat sources of protein, and their protein content in a 3 oz. serving:

  • Chicken breast: 17 grams
  • Salmon: 22 grams
  • Lean beef: 19 grams
  • Pork: 23 grams

Women who are vegan or vegetarian may have to work a bit harder to meet their daily protein requirements, but it’s possible. Here are some good sources of protein for women who are vegan (do not eat meat or animal by-products), and how much protein is contained in each serving:

  • Peanuts (serving size= 1 oz.): 7 grams
  • Sunflower seeds (1 oz.): 6 grams
  • Soymilk (1 cup): 8 grams
  • Kidney beans (1 cup): 17 grams
  • Lima beans (1 cup): 15 grams
  • Tofu (3 oz.): 6 grams

Although vegans must avoid meat and animal by-products entirely, vegetarians consume food and drinks made from animals, like eggs and dairy. Here are some good sources of protein, and their content per serving, for moms-to-be who do not eat meat, but still enjoy other animal by-products:

  • Cottage cheese (1 oz.): 5 grams
  • Eggs (1 egg): 6 grams
  • Skim milk (1 cup): 8 grams
  • Low-Fat Yogurt (1 cup): 10 grams

Reviewed by Dr. Jamie Lo
Read more
  • MS Kramer, R Kakuma. “Energy and protein intake in pregnancy.” Cochrane Database Syst Rev. (4):CD000032. Web. 2003.
  • “Nutrition During Pregnancy: FAQ001.” ACOG. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 4/15/2015. Web.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Pregnancy diet: Focus on these essential nutrients.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 3/1/2014. Web.
  • “All About the Protein Foods Group.” Choose My Plate. U.S Department of Agriculture, 8/19/2015. Web.

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