Pursuing a Natural Pregnancy – Protein

Thus begins a series on pursuing a healthy and natural pregnancy. Upcoming posts include Karis’ homebirth story, midwifery, exercise during pregnancy, and other related topics. I do not profess to be an expert on health and nutrition, so make sure to run things by your midwife or practitioner.  If you have a topic to add to the discussion, please send it my way!

One of the most important things I understand to be in the increased in the consumption of a pregnant mother is protein (recommended between 80-100mg per day). This is essential, especially during the first trimester but continuing throughout the entirety of the pregnancy, for the healthy growth and development of the little one inside!

For further reading on the recommended diet for a healthy, natural pregnancy, check out the diet recommendation by the Bradley Method.

In my effort to increase protein and yet stay within my budget, I have been trying to think of creative ideas to increase proteins in my diet found in dairy, eggs, and beans, as they are more frugal than meat.

I try to aim to eat 20 grams at each main meal of the day and an additional 20 grams from a snack, totally 80 grams per day. I definitely do not accomplish it perfectly every day, but here are a few ideas that work for me.

- Increase your milk!

If you can find quality raw milk (or at least non-homogenized milk -for more on the reasons why visit Real Milk), try to drink 1 quart a day, which equals 64 grams. I have yet to be able to afford or get this much milk, so I have been trying to drink two large glasses (16 oz) each day, which equals 32 grams of protein. Milk is wonderful to consume especially if you deal with morning sickness. I found it the best way to get my protein even when I didn’t feel like eating!

-Eat those Eggs!

Eggs are wonderful low-cost protein foods, in addition to having many other benefits. Try to purchase local, farm raised, free-range eggs, which are safe to eat raw if desired (as in the below recipe). A great recipe for increasing both eggs & milk is a homemade eggnog! This works especially well when you do not feel like eating. Thanks to my friend Samara for passing on this idea to me. It is simply delicious! A glass of this recipe each day would cover your snack requirements sufficiently, totally 20 grams. This is also a great way of getting the recommended two eggs per day. My husband loved this too! I honestly am not a big fan of eggs, but this is definitely too delicious to pass up and covers up the taste nicely!

Homemade Eggnog

8 oz. raw milk, preferred
2 eggs yolks or whole eggs (as desired), fresh, free range
1-2 Tbsp honey
Dash of cinnamon, cloves and/or nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Enjoy!

Other ideas to increase eggs in your diet, add an egg to your morning smoothie, eat french toast, and scrambled egg wraps.

- Beans!

I have found the best way to add a little extra protein is to toss cooked beans on top of a fresh salad at lunch or dinner. You can purchase marinated salad beans in a can (oh my!) which are delicious, frugal, and easy to access to pour on top of your salad. 1/2 cup of beans equal 7 grams of protein.

You can also add refried beans to a scrambled egg wrap and increase your protein! This makes it more of a mexican breakfast burrito and also is very delicious. For my egg wraps, I combine sauted veggies (onions, green peppers, grated potato) together with a little cheese and eggs, and top with salsa, sour cream and refried beans on a tortilla. Yum! If you have two eggs, 1/2 cup refrieds, you can receive over 20 grams easily!

– Canned Salmon

As fresh salmon can be very expensive, I choice wild canned salmon. At 12 gram per 3.5 oz you can get alot of protein and nutrition from this product. A great lunch idea is Salmon Melts – combining 1 can of canned salmon, mayonnaise, garlic powder, paprika and onion powder. Layer on a slice of bread topped with a little cheese and broil for a few minutes. A quick, tasty, and easy lunch full of protein! I served this today!

_ Peanut Butter

All nuts are great for protein, and peanut butter especially seems to be the most frugal and easiest to consume more frequently. During my first pregnancy, I loved a toasted English muffin with peanut butter with jam. Great little protein booster! I could get 12 grams this way, by eating 2 Tbsp of peanut butter and the English muffin had a little bit as well. Eat peanut butter on pancakes, if you like (we love in our house!), or grind up various nuts to add to your oatmeal, smoothies, etc.

Go protein!

Any other ideas for increasing protein and nutrition without breaking the budget?

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

44 Responses to Pursuing a Natural Pregnancy – Protein

  1. personal secured loan finance September 1, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

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  2. jkf March 28, 2011 at 7:34 am #

    hi lindsay! i just found out that i’m pregnant with our first (!!!) :) and i’m trying to find out if i need to stop drinking one cup of coffee a day. There are contradicting results out there and i’d love to know your opinion!

    THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS!

    • Lindsay March 28, 2011 at 7:46 am #

      I think it is perfectly safe to drink some caffeine. I know many a mother who drinks moderate quantities throughout pregnancy. That is the key in my opinion … moderation!

      • jkf March 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

        Thank you so much for responding so quickly! i’m very touched and grateful. i have another question but i have no one else to ask, but you…

        i saw somewhere on your site (can’t remember where now) that you said you only had 2 bloodtests during your whole pregnancy (??). My husband and i want as little medical intervention as possible and i’m wondering if you could elaborate on what prenatal care you find safe/necessary and which ones you don’t. For starters, did you go to a obgyn or did you just see your midwife? i just looked up all the tests/ pelvic exams ect. that are already expected for the first doctor’s visit and am skeptical if i want to make the appointment. what would you advise?

        • Lindsay March 29, 2011 at 7:30 am #

          I have used a homebirth midwife for all three of my pregnancies and she definitely believes in as little intervention as possible. She doesn’t even encourage an ultrasound, feeling that we don’t really know the implications of it as it has not undergone enough testing. Homebirthing is a wonderful option, but if you are not comfortable with it, the best alternative for is a natural birthing center. Here you will get the best treatment and as little intervention as possible. If you would like to discuss this further, feel free to email me. I’d love to help you out!

  3. kristenreyher April 27, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    Hi Lindsay. I was referred to your site by some friends and have found lots of helpful information here. However, I have to completely disagree with your suggestions to consume raw milk and raw eggs during pregnancy. I am a livestock veterinarian and have worked on dairies and poultry farms in the US, Canada and the UK, so I know a bit about this topic and do my best to offer advice on the subject.
    Because of how milk is produced – still by cows that live in environments that are, even amongst the cleanest, much dirtier than what we are mostly surrounded by in our daily lives. They sleep and stand in stalls filled with straw or sawdust, or outside in grass and dirt, they poo and pee and then lay down in it, getting their udders (where the milk comes from!) dirty – they are just generally not clean. Because of this natural tendency, and because the way we raise cows today, in all operations, is much more intensive than in the past, and there is a higher concentration of bacteria – and dangerous bacteria – in their environments. This often gets into milk, and can grow as that milk is transported, bottled/packaged and even as it sits in your refrigerator. The process of pasteurization may change the quality of the milk (although I think minimally), but it mostly serves to kill these bacteria and prevent disease.
    A simpler way to think about it, I guess, may be like this – if your child her pacifier outside in the grass, where a dog might have messed, where there is dirt and other organic material all around, would you wash it off or just put it back in her mouth? This is not to say that children should never put anything in their mouths (I know they do!), but just if you KNOW it's been dropped in a dirty place where there is a high likelihood of bacteria that could be harmful to her health getting on it, would you try to clean it off or just not bother?
    Although you quote some websites that support eating raw milk and eggs (eggs come from chickens that likewise live in dirty environments and have a very high risk of containing Salmonella bacteria), I would encourage you to consult the scientific literature. There are a number of websites that emphasize the dangers of raw milk: there is a good overview of its dangers and suggestions here on the National Mastitis Council's website: http://nmconline.org/docs/rawmilkposition.htm and a review of the literature that you can find at http://www.marlerblog.com/2008/06/articles/lawy…). It's unclear if raw milk can be helpful, but that it can be very dangerous is evident. I am often offered raw milk when on farms where I'm very familiar with their operation, their disease status, and all that, but usually in coffee and tea that are boiling when it goes in. As a healthy person I drink it, but I wouldn't risk it if I were pregnant and I wouldn't give it to my family, even if the farmer was my best friend. It just isn't worth the risk to me. It only takes a little bit of Listeria bacteria to cause brain damage, enterotoxigenic E. coli to put you in the hospital with severe diarrhea or MRSA to leave you very sick and with no available treatment. Pasteurization kills all these things (which are in the environment and therefore can get into milk) and more – it's too risky not to do it.
    Just my two cents, and I would be happy to reply with more information to anyone who would like it.

  4. Anna Stradford March 13, 2010 at 10:01 am #

    . . .with so much varying , it’s great nice to see someone with knowledge about healthy pregnancies post good useful information.

    Keep up the good work!

    toodles

  5. Joy December 2, 2009 at 3:25 pm #

    There are some suggestions for morning sickness on this web page…

    http://www.drbrewerpregnancydiet.com/id101.html

    And I think that this food chart that the Brewers published in a couple of their books can be easier for some people to use than the Bradley pink sheets…

    http://www.drbrewerpregnancydiet.com/id89.html

    Best wishes,
    Joy

  6. Jody October 13, 2009 at 2:33 pm #

    oops — sorry — one last question:
    any suggestions for morning sickness?

  7. Jody October 13, 2009 at 2:32 pm #

    Hi,
    I have just discovered we are pregnant with baby #5 and I am really pursuing a healthier pregnancy than ever. I am also about to turn 40 and am about 20 pounds overweight, which according to the healthcare world places me in a “high-risk” group — which I do not receive, of course. I completely chnaged our family’s diet about 9 months ago and have followed all your tips and recipes and got alot of extra weight off as well as healing in so much of my body. I have been exercising about 5 X’s/week for 4 months, as well. I was hoping to be further along on this before getting pregnant again. When it comes to all the prenatal tests, most of which I wish to avoid, have you found any info on what is really necessary? There are so many sources out there of do and do not. Have you found some really good Christian-based resources that line up with the Word? I have Supurnatural Childbirth which is awesome. Not sure why I feel so uncertain this time and want to get these concerns out of my head once and for all. Thanks for your time, Jody

    • Lindsay October 14, 2009 at 7:04 am #

      Check out Christian Childbirth Handbook. This is my favorite resource! I personally had a homebirth and only did blood tests twice during my pregnancy as provided by the midwife. I didn’t do anything else beyond standard checkups.

  8. Kristine January 31, 2009 at 2:39 pm #

    Wow! What a great topic! I am looking for ways to increase my protein intake in this pregnancy (18 weeks along now! Yay!). I try to keep hard-boiled eggs on hand, peeled and ready in a ziploc bag for fast protein. With my busy toddler and the little baby I am watching during the day, sometimes, I can’t eat a meal on time, so I grab a boiled egg or two. I also have worked at keeping cheese cubed in a ziploc bag. Another idea is nuts with dried fruit.

    I hope that others will post their quick protein ideas…I look forward to learning more! :)

    Thanks for your God-glorifying website, Lindsay!

  9. Julie January 30, 2009 at 12:27 pm #

    Hi,I LOVE your site, I’m currently preggnant w/my second child, my first was a homebirth but I think it could have gone slightly better, anyways,I have found a ton of good info on here,and am writing stuff down like crazy. I just had one question about the eggnogg, do you put 2 WHOLE eggs (w/the eggwhite too?) I know Dr. Mercola says its better to use just the yellow only, so I was wondering. Thanks.

  10. Lisa January 15, 2009 at 11:43 am #

    Hello!
    I am pregnant as well and looking for more sources of protein. I recently realized that lowfat or fat free cottage cheese has 14 grams of protein in only and 1/2 cup. Just thought i’d share my new high protein find.

    Thanks for your blog!
    Lisa

  11. Sarah December 22, 2008 at 5:14 am #

    FYI on peanut butter-Tripical Traditions has a new organic peanut butter which they say is free from aflotoxins.
    http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/organic_peanut_butter.htm

    It’s $5 for 10 ounces. Not cheap, but good to know if you’re looking for a safe source of peanut butter.

    Merry Christmas
    Sarah

  12. Jenny November 16, 2008 at 10:25 pm #

    Pumpkin Seeds have a lot of protein! For a package of 2.25 oz, its 15g of protein!

  13. Kami September 10, 2008 at 7:33 pm #

    Wow! If Sarah is correct in her hunch about the relationship of protein and the breaking of the amniotic sac, I must have really stocked up. My son’s sac didn’t break until he was born. He was actually born with most of his sac still on him. I sometimes wonder if this was why I was in labor for so long with him (roughly 30 hours). Thankfully, I have a doctor who allows a woman to labor naturally without pushing a C-section on her.

    Thank you so much for your post. Pregnancy and childbirth is a real passion of mine. We truly are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

  14. Sarah September 7, 2008 at 12:45 am #

    What fun to see this topic discussed! I, too, took the Bradley classes and have had (as did my classmates) great success. I have noticed, however, that the “pink sheets” (Dr. Brewer’s sheets they pass out in class) don’t always have good info on how much protein is in different foods. I found it better to just look at the packaging, and that sometimes made a difference of almost 20 gm a day!

    The subject of high-protein in pregnancy has really interested me, since I believe it is what has caused my amniotic sac not to rupture until well into labor (in 3 labors so far), which is often not the case with many people I know who either haven’t kept track of protein intake or have, but haven’t eaten enough. If anyone asks me for advice on pregnancy and childbirth, I am sure to include this tidbit. Water breaking early can make SO MUCH DIFFERENCE in the outcome of your birth, and can really limit options, especially in a hospital setting.

    I’m like you, I considered myself successful if I got 80 gm! Thanks for posting.

  15. laura September 6, 2008 at 12:45 am #

    Hi Lindsay! I’ve been reading through your blog and finding so many great ideas! This one caught my eye because I’m pregnant (6 weeks, hurray!!) with baby #2 as well and hoping to have a much more healthy pregnancy than my last (which ended in a drug-free, but hardly “natural” hospital birth).

    I was curious…about the safety of consuming raw milk and eggs during pregnancy. I’ve always thought this was a no-no…but I’ve been wanting to try raw milk for a long time. we don’t eat dairy at all in our house and I’ve been researching raw milk as an alternative. What does your midwife have to say about this? I would LOVE to hear some alternative views. :)

    • Lindsay September 8, 2008 at 3:17 pm #

      You will find most modern pregnancy books will encourage you to avoid raw milk and raw eggs during pregnancy, but I have found many articles from Weston Price to be helpful in settling those fears. I have been drinking raw milk and eating raw eggs (in smoothies, or in eggnog) for both of my pregnancies and have had no harmful results.

      According to this article, Modern Baby Books: Full of Bad Advice,

      Actually, raw milk is safer than pasteurized milk. Raw milk from healthy, pasture-fed cows has been a staple in many cultures for centuries, and has contributed to fabulous health, not caused disease.

      You will find that article very interesting for further discussion on this topic. Also, Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions encourages the consumption of raw milk for pregnant mothers.

      • Alicia September 17, 2008 at 12:10 pm #

        That article was very interesting. Thank you for poasting it.

      • Nicole November 30, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

        I know I’m 3 years late reading and commenting this article, but in case anyone else would like my two cents, I wanted to add my input. I am at the start of my second trimester and while my nausea is decreasing significantly, I have found that switching back to pasteurized, homogenized, certified organic milk is NOT cutting it for me. I am having stomach issues and I *know* that I’m not getting the nutrition that I need from it. How do I know? It just doesn’t feel right – and I didn’t quite understand that until I was drinking raw milk (before I got pregnant). In other words, before I got pregnant, it was “low risk” enough for me to drink raw milk, and I did, and goodness gracious it was what my body wanted! Since becoming pregnant, I have been told by everyone that it’s too “high risk” to drink raw milk now, but after 3 months, all I can say is that, with a trustworthy source, I’ve gotta have the raw milk. I would be better off drinking no milk at all than homogenized store milk, if I had the will power. Fortunately I just moved to PA where it is legal and relatively easy to procure safe and healthy raw milk!

  16. Dana August 24, 2008 at 12:03 am #

    HI,
    I am a big fan of Bradley, but I don’t recommend as much milk as they encourage. I feel that it can really put on unhealthy weight, and I also feel there is a real link to colic and lactose intolerance when mama drinks excessive amounts of milk. Yogurt and Kefir is really good, cottage cheese also. I only encourage tofu in moderation, because of the estrogenic effects. If you eat an extremely unprocessed diet, with free range meat, then it is a great source of protein.
    With some of my babies, I have lived on Norwegian pancakes. I don’t remember right of the top of my head, but it is around 2 cups cottage cheese, a couple of cups of sour cream, 4 eggs, some salt, baking powder, a tablespoon of sugar, and 3/4 cups flour. They are very tender, and need to be well browned and on a well greased griddle or they will stick, but they are so good and so high in protein.
    Dana, wearing her midwife hat.

    • Kate August 25, 2008 at 1:41 am #

      We only drink skim milk in our home. I rarely drink milk anymore. I think I’m being intolerate of it. I can’t bring myself to drink raw milk. I need to know it’s ok to drink.

      My children are past the age of having to drink milk w/fat in it. So by, drinking skim milk we can drink more of it then if we drank the whole milk.

      • Lindsay August 25, 2008 at 9:29 pm #

        I would encourage you to read more about the wonderful benefits of raw milk. The main reason skim milk would not be the best choice is that the butterfat in the milk is necessary to help your body digest the calcium and protein from the milk. When all this is removed, you cannot digest these good nutrients. There are many other reasons (including the harmful processes of pasteurization and homogenization linked to diseases and destroying nutrients), but I will allow you to read further by checking out the Real Milk site, and Weston Price articles here.

  17. Lindsay August 23, 2008 at 12:02 pm #

    Funny…I left out the vanilla in the recipe, but yes, I have been adding that as well! Yes, milk has 8grams per 8 ozs. Did I say otherwise?

  18. Samara Root August 23, 2008 at 9:05 am #

    Hi Lindsay,
    I’m glad you liked the eggnog! Try adding a bit of vanilla extract too…
    I thought that milk had 8 gms per 8 ozs?

    Thanks,
    Samara

    • Kate August 24, 2008 at 9:44 am #

      Just be careful, vanilla extract has alcohol in it. Many women don’t drink ANY alcohol during pregnancy (myself included). As a nurse, I still think it’s best to not have any, but that a very personal choice.

  19. Sarah August 22, 2008 at 1:16 pm #

    Yogurt, nuts, tofu, cheese, and lots of beans (I think lentils especially?). Getting enough protein is my daily challenge! With twins you are supposed to get even more and it’s been hard since I haven’t wanted peanut butter at all and I don’t eat much eggs or milk. I have started using a pea protein powder too and then throwing wheat germ into food whenever I can, but it’s not really cheap unfortunately. I have also heard that quinoa and I think tempeh are good protein sources as well, so those are my next new things to try!

    Thanks for the great post! :-)

  20. Rachael August 22, 2008 at 11:56 am #

    I am excited to read about your homebirth and related posts. I trained with Bradley too, but ended up with PIH and was induced and then had a C-section. I am hoping for a more natural v-bac next time around, God-willing.

  21. Shelley August 22, 2008 at 11:04 am #

    I enjoyed reading your post. I too am looking for more ways to add protein to my diet. Ground flax seed also contains protein and is rich in omega 3 and omega 6, not to mention a good amount of fiber. If you do use flax seed, you definitely want it ground and it is best if it is cold milled or you grind it in a way that it does not heat up significantly to get the most nutritional benefits of it. Costco carries organic ground cold milled flax seed, but I do not honestly remember how much it costs. However, a little goes a long way (2 Tbsp is one serving and there are 81 servings in the container). You can also use it as an egg or oil substitute in some recipes. I’ve used it in waffles, pancakes, pizza, smoothies, and my husband likes to put some on his yogurt. I’ve also had homemade bread with it and it was very tasty.

  22. Carrie August 22, 2008 at 7:48 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing all of these ideas! :-) Now I’ll have some great things to try the next time I’m pregnant. :-)

  23. Alyssa August 21, 2008 at 7:33 pm #

    Great post! Another great option is plain yogurt-lots of protein and calcium! There’s lots of ways to dress it up. I like simply mixing in a spoonful of apple juice concentrate and maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon. Yum!

    And be sure to eat the bones in canned salmon for lots of good calcium. I just crush them between my fingers when flaking the salmon for a recipe.

  24. Kate August 21, 2008 at 6:32 pm #

    I highly recommend a good book. It’s called Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize.

  25. Cyndy August 21, 2008 at 6:31 pm #

    Oh, thanks so much. My daughter is four. I wish I could go back in time with all the info about pregnancy and childbirth that I have now. I so much wanted a home birth and ended up in the hospital with a c-section. My daughter’s birth story stirs up a lot of sadness for me and feelings of inadequacy. However, I am still so interested in what I feel is the “right” way to bring a life into this world. Thanks for your generosity of spirit and for sharing. I can not wait to hear your daughter’s birth story. All of these stories renew my sense of hope and joy.

    • Valerie August 22, 2008 at 7:43 pm #

      Cyndy,
      I just wanted to encourage you. With my first child, my husband and I had planned on an all natural hospital birth and ended up with an induction, 32 hour labor and a c-section. I also struggled with feelings of inadequacy and anger/sadness, followed by sheer fear when I was expecting my daughter last year. God is faithful and he is a redeemer! Our second birth was a drug-free, natural, hospital birth after a 2 1/2 hour labor. If you plan on future children, don’t give up on your pursuit of a natural birth. You are in no way inadequate! Now that I know I can have children naturally (there was some doubt), I hope to have any future children at home.

      • Thea April 3, 2010 at 6:49 am #

        Valerie,

        That is so good to hear, as my daughter was born via emergency c-section when I had hoped for a natural birth. I’m now expecting another child and praying/planning for a VBAC, but I know that God has done some incredible things in my heart through my birth experience, and so I know he will be faithful through this one, even if it doesn’t look at all the way I hope it will.

        And Cyndy, I can completely relate with the sadness and sense of inadequacy that can follow a c-section. I don’t think people always appreciate that there is a sort of grief that comes with a cesarean – I remember several people gently chastising me for my sorrow, because, after all, I had a healthy baby, right? And while I am incredibly grateful for my healthy daughter (it could have easily gone very, very differently), it is important to deal honestly with the Lord about our sorrows, because he loves us and he knows our hearts completely.

  26. shellie August 21, 2008 at 5:54 pm #

    I did Bradley!! I loved it!! I also did yogurt w/cheese and turkey bacon.

  27. Anna August 21, 2008 at 5:48 pm #

    Looking forward to the rest of this series! My little girl was born at home and though we had unforeseen complications after she was delivered, I was so glad to get to have her in the quiet and comfort of my home.

  28. Michele @ Frugal Granola August 21, 2008 at 5:35 pm #

    I always seem to choose either peanut butter or cottage cheese for a snack. Cottage cheese has an amazing amount of protein! :)

  29. Laura August 21, 2008 at 5:20 pm #

    It just so happens I’m a vegetarian, so I have tons of cheap and yummy bean recipes.

    Mazidra is a dish made with lentils. Cook your lentils with any normal seasonings you would usually have. Pour the lentils over rice. Add fresh lettuce, tomatoes, or any veggies of your choice, and top with sauteed mushrooms, onion and pepper.

    You can make burgers out of beans too. There are TONS of recopies online. I could send you may favorite one if you would like.

    You could make a nice big pot of chili and eat it with some cornbread and yummy green veggies.

    You could cook or make your own black beans and use them for taco salads, burritos (they are especially good when you add sauteed veggies, and then grill the prepared burritos before eating them.)

    Tofu is also another source of good and inexpensive protein, and there are ways to cook it so that it’s actually really yummy.

    I’d be happy to share any recipes with you. Just let me know what you might be interested in.

  30. lylah ledner August 21, 2008 at 5:17 pm #

    love this girl! my sister in law is planning to deliver this baby boy in october with a home birth and i get to be there!