Protein is essential during pregnancy, and without sufficient amounts, your baby won't grow normally. Regularly consuming more protein than you need, however, can also impede your baby's development. Avoid either of these problems by learning how much is enough and how to go about getting exactly what you need.
Protein and Pregnancy
You need plenty of protein during pregnancy because it promotes fetal tissue development, including the proper growth of your unborn baby's brain, according to the American Pregnancy Association. You also need adequate protein because it helps your body produce the extra blood you need to support a pregnancy. Protein is particularly crucial during the second and third trimesters, the American Pregnancy Association reports.
How Much Is Enough?
Pregnant women need more protein than women who aren't pregnant. Aim for 70 grams of protein per day, recommends the BabyCenter website, but the American Pregnancy Association notes that between 75 and 100 grams of protein is appropriate. You don't need to pack this many grams of protein into your daily diet, but instead make these amounts an average over the entire week, the BabyCenter suggests.
Dangers of Too Much Protein During Pregnancy
Protein foods, such as meat, can be high in calories. While you need about 300 extra calories per day during pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association, eating more calories than you need each day can lead to unhealthy weight gain beyond what's appropriate to support your pregnancy. Getting more protein than you need isn't beneficial and might impair normal fetal growth, according to a 2003 article published in the "Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews." A 2012 article published in the "British Journal of Nutrition" reports that a high-protein, low-carb diet can inhibit growth of an unborn baby, partly because it can cause a pregnant woman to develop certain nutritional deficiencies.
Getting the Right Amount
Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet that includes lean meat, low-fat diary foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains helps ensure that you get each of the nutrients you need, including protein. Talk with your doctor about the exact amount of protein you need, but including two to three servings of lean meat and two to three servings of vegetarian protein foods, such as beans, lentils and nuts, is likely to provide everything you need.
- American Pregnancy Association: Pregnancy Nutrition
- American Pregnancy Association: Diet During Pregnancy
- BabyCenter: Prortein in Your Pregnancy Diet
- Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Energy and Protein Intake During Pregnancy
- British Journal of Nutrition: High-Protein-Low-Carbohydrate Diet During Pregnancy Alters Maternal Plasma Amino Acid Concentration and Placental Amino Acid Extraction But Not Fetal Plasma Amino Acids in Pigs