Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Eating Protein for a Healthy Pregnancy

How much protein does a pregnant woman need to eat? Different sources recommend different amounts - some say as little as 60grams/day, with others suggesting more. Dr. Thomas Brewer's diet plan for pregnancy is on the high end of the recommendations, with a goal of 80-100 grams/day. After forty years of research, he came to see a link between poor nutrition and pre-eclampsia, preterm labor, and babies born at a low birth-weight. The Bradley Method childbirth classes teach his plan, and so do I, because I truly believe that it promotes a healthy pregnancy and a "blue-ribbon" baby (the name of Brewer's website:

One of the most important outcomes of his research was to recommend that higher amount of protein/day. It seems like a lot, at least at first. But there are lots of very do-able ways to get that amount most days.

Here are some of my suggestions:

1. Eat eggs. Dr. Brewer recommends two/day. I suggest getting the non-caged, omega-3 enhanced ones, at least for the duration of the pregnancy... in some areas, you might even be able to find them locally (I can, and they're not even more expensive than the large grocery store eggs...). I've never had 2 eggs/day for any length of time because I don't really like them plain. I did try to increase the frequency with which I ate them during pregnancy, though, and these are some of the ways I enjoyed them:

** Scrambled, with cheese
** Scrambled, with cottage cheese
** Scrambled, plain or w/herbs & milk
** Omelet
** Chicken in Basket (egg in bread hole)
** Chicken in Basket w/cheese
** Fried, in sandwich
** Egg Salad, plain
** Egg Salad Sandwich
** Devilled Eggs
** Hard-boiled, in salad
** Eggs Benedict
** Poached, w/ toast & melted cheese
** Custards
** Egg soufflé w/ cheese
** Quiche
** Frittata (Italian dinner omelet)
** Strata (eggs layered w/ bread & filling)
** Breakfast Casseroles

Keep in mind that eggs have about 7g of protein each. So an egg sandwich (two pieces of whole-grain toast, one egg, a slice of cheese and lettuce/tomato) would have about 20g of protein in it. An two-egg, cheese, ham and veggie omelot would have about 25-30ish grams (depending on how much cheese and ham you used). Adding one hard-boiled egg to a salad adds those 7g too.

Even if you're like me and don't enjoy eggs overeasy or plain scrambled eggs, you might find some tasty and healthful options that appeal to you on that list.

2. Choose lean cuts of meat/fish and low-fat dairy - eating a lot of protein doesn't have to mean eating a lot of fat.

3. Also think about non-animal sources of protein. Whole-grain bread has about 4g of protein per slice, and whole-wheat pita and English muffins have some too. Brown rice has about 6g in 1C. A 1/4C of nuts has 6-10g.

Combining non-meat protein foods that complement each other can equal the complete protein of meat, too. For example:

** whole grains + legumes
(wheat bread + nut butter)
(brown rice + beans)
(wheat pita + hummus)

** whole grains + dairy products
(cereal + milk)
(granola + yogurt)
(pasta + cheese)
(pizza + cheese)

** vegetables + dairy products
(broccoli + cheese)
(spinach + cheese)

4. Think about how you divide up your protein throughout the day - breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack or too... if you eat some protein in each meal or snack, you might be surprised at how close you can get to 80-100 grams without changing your diet very much.

5. Use a before-bed snack to increase protein intake on the days where you've fallen a little short of your goal - a piece of peanut-butter toast and a small glass of milk (about 20g); a small dish of ice cream (6g); a yogurt fruit smoothie (10-15g); a cheese stick (7g) all can boost a mom up to her goal.

Finally, here are some ways that I enjoyed eating protein during my pregnancies:

** Yogurt shake w/ fruit and dry milk powder
** Egg salad sandwich on wheat pita w/ lettuce
** Whole wheat pita & hummus
** Puddings, ice cream or frozen yogurt (!!)
** Graham crackers w/ peanut butter
** String cheese
** Cottage cheese eggs
** Salad w/ chicken or ham, egg, cheese & veggies
** Cottage cheese & pineapple or other fruit
** Yogurt w/ banana & granola
** Cream of wheat w/ brown sugar, pecans & raisins
** Open-face cheese melt on wheat bread

I'll do a recipe post later!

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine


posted by Christina Kennedy at


Blogger Pavithra Ravi said...

Thanks for posting such information.this is really useful..

June 5, 2008 5:44 PM  
Blogger Curdie said...

Thanks so much. What a helpful post!

April 26, 2009 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Joy said...

Thanks for posting such a good overview of the Brewer Diet (and so many good ideas for eating eggs)!

If anyone would like more details about the Brewer Principles, you can see the website "The Dr. Brewer Pregnancy Diet" here...

Best wishes,

November 28, 2009 12:45 PM  

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