Protein During Pregnancy
Protein during pregnancy is vital because it provides the growth elements for your growing baby, the placenta, the increase in the mother’s blood volume and the amniotic fluid.
The word protein is derived from the Greek word ‘proteios’ which means “of prime importance”.
Complex new tissues are produced during pregnancy at a rate greater than at any other time during a woman’s life and protein is essential for this purpose.
Both the expectant mother and developing fetus need increased amounts of protein during pregnancy.
A primary role of protein is for growth and maintenance. Because new tissue is synthesized from proteins and any type of growth or regeneration requires protein, it is a vital nutrient for a developing fetus. Protein is required for the physical growth and cellular development of your baby. It is also required for the placenta, amniotic tissues, and maternal tissues.
A woman’s blood volume increases by 50% during pregnancy!
Protein is needed to produce new blood cells. Especially during the second and third trimesters, when your baby is growing the fastest and your breasts and other organs are getting bigger to accommodate the needs of your growing baby.
During pregnancy, the body conserves protein, especially in the last half of pregnancy when the demand is greatest.
Maternal protein deficiency can have serious consequences. Metabolism is altered if protein is inadequate. Even though amino acids are transported from mother to fetus across a concentration gradient, if the supply is inadequate in the mother, the fetus will be deficient.
Some research suggests that sufficient protein can help minimize chances of mothers developing hypertension and preeclampsia in late pregnancy.
Protein requirements for pregnant women are set between 60 – 75 grams daily. The National Academy of Science suggests a daily intake of 74 grams of protein during pregnancy.
Most high protein foods also supply other necessary nutrients, such as iron, B vitamins, and trace minerals.
Quality Sources of Protein Include
~ Lean Meats
~ Wild Salmon
~ Dried Beans
~ Beet Greens
COMPLETE PROTEINS are found in fish, cheese, meat poultry, eggs, and tofu products.
INCOMPLETE PROTEINS are found in a wide variety of foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds, grains, and many fruits and vegetables.
*Combining seeds, nuts or legumes with a variety of vegetables and grains makes a complete protein.