Protein Needed for Baby's Growth
Protein is by far the most important macro nutrient needed during pregnancy. It is required for construction of your baby's body. Protein malnutrition is a serious problem and can result in premature delivery, poor brain development, immune system weakness, and a failure to maximize genetic potential during fetal development.
Our government has arbitrarily set the non-pregnancy suggestion for protein on the low side at 50 grams per day, meaning 10% of a 2000 calorie per day diet. You are supposed to eat 300-400 more calories per day when you are pregnant, and our government suggests this should give you another 10 grams of protein for a total of 60 grams per day during pregnancy. In my opinion these guidelines may be inadequate, as protein needs vary considerably based on stress, physical demands, and various different sizes of women.
A better rule of thumb is half your ideal body weight in grams of protein per day, plus 10 to 15 extra grams for your baby. For
example, if your ideal body weight is 130 pounds then you should have 65 grams of protein a day in preparation for pregnancy. If you have a physically demanding or emotionally stressful life you may need 75 to 80 grams of protein a day to offset wear and tear. Once pregnant you should add 10-15 more grams of protein per day to meet the extra protein needs of growing your baby.
The quality of protein you consume is of immense importance, with meats, eggs, and dairy products providing excellent sources of complete sulfur-rich proteins. Meeting protein needs is most difficult for vegetarian women. Large amounts of soy protein, especially soy-based non-fermented American concoctions, may be harmful during pregnancy as such large amounts of soy are anti-thyroid, disturb digestion, and confuse the function of estrogen. I don't think women should ever use a soy protein drink during pregnancy.
Getting adequate protein can be a challenge, especially as pregnancy moves along and digestion become "scrunched" from an ever-expanding uterus. It becomes more difficult to digest heavier protein-dense foods. Cottage cheese is one exception -- where you can get a lot of high quality sulfur-rich protein in a relatively small serving.
It is easy to boost protein intake by using fine quality whey protein. This is an ideal protein to support your baby's growth -- providing the types of sulfur-rich protein needed for optimal brain formation and general health. My favorite supplement in this category is Daily Protein Plus™, which provides whey along with oat beta glucan fiber and a serving of fruit (mangosteen extract). It makes a great breakfast and can be used to help boost protein at any meal, as needed.*
Daily Protein Plus™
Whey protein with oat beta glucan fiber for cholesterol support and mangosteen antioxidant fruit extract. Excellent for breakfast. Get your metabolism started on the right foot!*