Protein is needed to build your baby’s body and organs, and maternal tissues to support baby’s growth. It also helps in many other ways during your pregnancy.
As your pregnancy progresses and your baby grows in size, he or she needs help from you to support his or her growth. You can support this by ensuring that you get enough protein in your diet.
Protein plays a key role in the development of your baby’s entire body and the organs within, including his or her muscles, nerves and brain.i, ii It is also needed to help create skin and hair.
Importantly, ensuring adequate intake of protein can also help avoid stillbirth and pre-term births.iii
How much protein do you and your baby need?
In your first trimester, your protein requirement stays the same, which is around 60 g of protein per day. As your baby grows bigger, your protein needs also increases. You need extra protein of 10 g in your second trimester, and around 30 g in your third trimester.iv
For example, 1 egg or a glass of milk (200 ml) contains about 6 g of protein while 100 g of fish or meat contains about 20-30 g of protein.
Where can you find protein?
Meats (such as chicken, beef, and pork)
Fish (such as tilapia, cod, and particularly salmon and sardines as they can also deliver another important nutrient, DHA, which fuels your baby’s brain growth)
Dairy products (such as milk, cheese, and yoghurt)
Soy products (such as tofu and tempeh)
Nuts and spreads (such as pistachio nuts and peanut butter)
i Proteins are the Body's Worker Molecules. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2017, from https://publications.nigms.nih.gov/structlife/chapter1.html
ii Good Nutrition During Pregnancy for You and Your Baby. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Am_I_Pregnant/hic_Good_Nutrition_During_Pregnancy_for_You_and_Your_Baby
iii Balanced energy and protein supplementation during pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://www.who.int/elena/titles/energy_protein_pregnancy/en/
iv Joint FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation on Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition, (2002). Geneva, Switzerland. WHO Technical Report Series 935, pp. 243-244). Retrieved 2 June 2017 from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/43411/1/WHO_TRS_935_eng.pdf