Protein during pregnancy is very essential for expectant mothers. It helps to maintain overall maternal health and contributes towards the development of a healthy fetus.

Food intake by expectant mothers plays a vital role in the growth of the fetus. Hence, special care should be taken of the quality and composition of foods. Protein is one of the most crucial dietary elements pregnant women must include in their daily diet. It is very essential in forming new cells and building the body of the growing fetus.

pregnant woman

Are you expecting it? Here is all you need to know about the importance of protein intake in your pregnancy diet:

The Role of Protein during pregnancy

Protein promotes overall body health. It builds cells inside the human body. Protein is an essential component for building up the soft tissue of your baby. It is a building material for your red blood cells and placenta. Nails, hair, bones, and other organs are also dependent on protein for healthy growth.

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Protein for Healthy Fetal Development

Protein intake by mothers is directly associated with a baby’s birth weight. Infants born to women who consumed the proper amount of protein during pregnancy had a higher birth weight. Low birth weight is a serious issue as it can result in many problems such as the increased risk of infection, respiratory distress syndrome, and jaundice. Not having enough protein will make your baby weak or ill at birth.

Protein for Expectant Mothers

Protein is very helpful in maintaining blood sugar levels to reduce gestational diabetes risk for mothers. Diet high in protein helps moms-to-be to gain more muscle and less fat. Protein builds cells carrying iron and oxygen through the bloodstream and prevents anemia.

Protein during pregnancy

How much is Protein required?

Your daily protein intake requirement increases during pregnancy. Doctors suggest that varying body weight during pregnancy is the best way to determine the actual amount of protein you need.

Most women gain an average weight of 12 kg during pregnancy. WHO recommends the gain of protein ranging anywhere between 497 grams and 696 grams for the same.

According to NNC, the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for protein during the first trimester of pregnancy is 46 grams daily. During the second and third trimesters, it increases to 60 grams on a daily basis.

Best Sources of Protein 

Milk and eggs are known to be the best sources of protein. These are versatile, inexpensive, and capable of providing you with a minimum of 32 grams of protein daily. Another great source of protein is fish. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which, makes for a great source of DHA, a vital element needed to feed your little one’s brain.

However, you must pay close attention to the type of fish you consume during pregnancy. Certain fish types containing higher levels of mercury are very harmful to the baby. Strictly avoid fish sourced from contaminated waters like king mackerel, shark, fresh tuna, swordfish, sea bass, mahi-mahi, tilefish, amberjack, and grouper. Safer options include perch, cod, salmon, trout, and halibut. It is advisable to restrict fish intake to around 12 ounces a week.

If you are a vegetarian mom, include protein-rich veggies and fruits throughout your pregnancy. Bananas, nuts, milk, and cheese are rich in protein, calcium, and carry loads of nutrients. Soya is also a great option. Sprouts and lentils contain a good amount of protein.

To Sum Up

Ample protein supplementation helps pregnant women to have a safer and more comfortable pregnancy. A healthy intake of protein during pregnancy is important for creating hormones responsible for regulating all primary functions in the body. With so many vital roles to play, protein is undoubtedly a crucial part of the pregnancy diet.

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The Role of Protein During Pregnancy