Protein During Pregnancy – Importance and Sources

5 min read

Written by Suma rp

Suma rp

importance of protein during pregnancy

Proteins are put together by amino acids and are essential macronutrients. They are important for the body to maintain the functioning of the body cells. Proteins play a vital role in repairing damaged cells and are vital in generating new cells. So, how important is protein during pregnancy? From building the tissues of the uterus to maintaining your baby’s healthy weight, protein is needed in every step of pregnancy. 

The human body can’t store amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) in the body, and because of this, we need to obtain them from our daily diet for sustainable living. Nine essential amino acids are supposed to be obtained from a daily diet in standardized quantities. Proteins are required at all stages of life. But the requirement for proteins is high during stages like pregnancy. pregnancy pillow

In This Article

Importance of Protein During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the body undergoes very intense and diverse changes. Proteins are a vital macronutrient, required for better growth and development of the baby as well as to maintain the proper health status of the mother. 

Here are a few points explaining the importance of protein during pregnancy for both the mother and the baby

1. For the Mother

  • Maintains cell health (repairs the damage)
  • It helps in the development of new cells in the mother
  • Helps in the development of breast and uterine tissue growth. 
  • Needed for the production of breastmilk
  • Proteins produce antibodies to fight infections
  • Proteins help the mother to maintain her body fluids that will control and maintain blood pressure and prevent pregnancy swelling.
  • Taking a good amount of protein throughout the pregnancy will ease the labor.

It not only strengthens the mother during pregnancy but supports the growth of your developing baby, and also prepares the mother’s body for postpartum. Adequate protein intake also helps in lactation. 

2. For the Baby

  • Adequate maternal protein intake aids healthy cell and tissue formation 
  • It helps in the production of antibodies for the mother, which will act like a protection shield for the baby too.
  • Protein is the functional unit for muscle building
  • Protein helps in the supply of oxygen to the growing fetus
  • It helps in increasing the blood supply to the fetus
  • It also needs for the good development of organs like the skin and hair of the baby
  • Contributes to building your baby’s immunity
  • Intake of a good amount of protein will have the baby with a normal birth weight

Protein plays a very essential and significant role in the development of the baby, maintaining the mother’s health, facilitating pregnancy, and helping in complications-free labor. When the mother does not take enough protein, the baby will begin to draw from the reserves, which leaves the mother protein deficient. Protein deficiency can affect in many ways including compromising your and your baby’s health and proper development. 

Signs of Protein Deficiency During Pregnancy

pregnant woman with cold and flu

Lack of protein in the diet of the mother will cause a lot of complications in pregnancy and hinder the development of the baby. Moreover, It will also hinder the recovery of the mother after delivery.

Here are some signs and symptoms of protein deficiency

  • Edema (Swelling feet and other body parts due to fluid retention)
  • Weight loss
  • Brittle nails
  • Dry and flaky skin
  • Frequent infections
  • Hair loss
  • Thin and brittle hair
  • Anemia (low hemoglobin level)
  • Problems in wound healing
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Fatigue
  • More hunger (never feels full and satisfied)

These are some signs which will indicate a lack of protein in your diet. You can determine from these signs and include a high portion of protein.

[Read : Dry and Flaky Skin During Pregnancy]

Amount of Protein Required During Pregnancy 

The amount of protein required by pregnant women may vary depending on their body weight. The recommended dietary protein is 60-71 grams in a day. 

How to calculate the protein amount?

The amount of protein required for 1 kg is 0.8 grams. Multiply your body weight by 0.8 to get the exact amount of protein required by your body for the proper growth of the baby and healthy pregnancy.

Protein – Rich Foods During Pregnancy 

woman having protein rich food during pregnancy

You can get enough amount of protein through dietary sources. However, pregnancy is a tender phase and you may need protein more than what is actually required for a normal human being. 

Here are a few animal and plant-based protein sources you can rely on during the period of pregnancy. 

1. Animal-Based Protein Source

  • Egg
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Beef spleen
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Fortified Milk
  • Lean meat
  • Tofu
  • Paneer

2. Plant-Based Protein Source

  • Lentils ( green, brown, and red)
  • Nuts and seeds ( sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, etc.)
  • Sweet potato
  • Kiwi
  • Broccoli
  • Mushroom
  • Olive
  • Carrots
  • Berries
  • Spinach
  • Whole grains
  • Chickpeas
  • Soya bean
  • Kidney beans
  • Avocado
  • Kale
  • Peanut
  • Chia seeds

An expecting woman should include a good amount of protein source in her daily diet to obtain the minimal requirement of protein as well as all the other essential nutrients during pregnancy.

Protein is the most essential nutrient required by pregnant women for the healthy growth and development of the growing fetus. As well as for healthy and smooth pregnancy and labor. It is also proven that a good amount of protein intake throughout the pregnancy can ease labor and also aids in healthy birth weight of the baby. Protein can be obtained from both animal-based and plant-based sources.

[Read : How To Get Proteins In Pregnancy In A Vegetarian Diet?]


1. Can Protein Intake Increase Fetal Weight?

Yes, a good amount of protein intake can deliver a baby with a healthy birth weight.

2. How Does Protein Deficiency Affect Pregnancy?

Protein deficiency can cause pregnancy loss and low fetal birth weight. Hence it is important to take an adequate amount of protein. It is needed for the development of the baby and also to ensure a healthy pregnancy. 

3. Is it Safe to Drink Protein Shakes During Pregnancy?

Yes, it is safe. But obtaining it from natural resources is recommended. In case you fail to do so, you can take supplements and protein shakes with doctors’ prescriptions.

Read Also: Carbohydrates During Pregnancy- Importance and Sources

Suma rp,M.Sc (Organic Chemistry) Rayalaseema University B.Sc (Biotechnology) Sri Krishna Devaraya University.

Suma is a passionate content writer with a strong keenness to understand the miracle of pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Suma has successfully transitioned into a full-time content writer and a key contributor at Being The Parent. She leverages on her experimental background in chemistry and experience in writing to come up with well-researched content that helps parents struggling to deal with various medical conditions of their children.Read more.

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