Importance of Protein During Pregnancy

For adults, protein is essential to keep the body going, as it is needed for different body functions.

Protein, composed of one or more long chains of amino acids, is an important component of every cell in your body. It helps build and repair tissue; make enzymes and hormones; and build bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and even blood.

When you are pregnant, adequate dietary protein is crucial to ensure you have a healthy baby. The amino acids in protein help build everything from your baby’s muscles to its brain.

Importance of protein during pregnancy

Protein is also needed to produce the right amount of blood cells and aids the body in producing iron, an important nutrient that helps you maintain a healthy immune system. Women often need more iron than usual when they are pregnant.

Protein also helps the breast and uterine tissue growth during pregnancy.

On the other hand, low protein intake during pregnancy can lead to a number of health problems in both the mother as well as the developing baby.

First of all, it can cause weakness and increased fatigue in the expecting mother.

For the developing baby, a low-protein diet can lead to poor muscle and joint development, poor bone development, muscle or bone deformities, miscarriage, brain damage, and a high risk of birth defects.

In fact, if there’s a lack of protein, your baby growing inside your womb will begin to break down its own tissues in order to get building blocks for the body, preventing both of you from staying healthy.

Importance of Protein during Pregnancy

How Much Protein is Needed during Pregnancy?

Pregnant women need 75 to 100 grams of protein per day.

This is about 25 grams more than what you would need normally.

However, your protein requirement may be a little less or more depending on your level of activity as well. If you are very active and engage in regular exercise, you may want to increase your protein intake to 80 to 100 grams each day.

What are Healthy Sources of Protein?

While lean meats, poultry, and fish like salmon, halibut, trout, cod, and perch are excellent sources of protein, there are some healthier options that you must try.

Some other sources of protein that many pregnant women rely on are beans, tofu, peanuts, wheat germ, and whole grains.

Protein shakes and protein bars are also nutritional supplements that may help some women meet their minimum protein requirements.

During pregnancy, you must avoid soft and unpasteurized cheese, fish with a high level of mercury, unpasteurized milk, and processed meat, such as deli-style meat.

While these foods are high in protein, they are also prone to developing bacteria, which can lead to several food-borne illnesses. So, it is best to avoid these protein sources throughout pregnancy and during recovery.


Apart from paying attention to your protein intake, you must take your prenatal vitamins and eat a balanced diet.

At the same time, regular exercise, adequate sleep, deep breathing, and a low-stress level are vitally important during pregnancy.

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