Patients often ask questions about ideal diets and nutrition for pregnancy and lactation, and as your midwives, we have answers!
*Please note that this blog is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment; Sweet Child O’ Mine is sharing general information about protein and pregnancy. As always, please consult with your medical provider with any questions you may have regarding this information and/or your medical condition.
What is Protein and How Much Do I Need to Eat?
Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are typically referred to as “the building blocks of human life.” In other words, proteins promote and support the continuous creation of new cells in the human body. Muscles, collagen, skin, bones, blood vessels, antibodies, and other body tissues all rely on chains of amino acids, or proteins, to continually rebuild.
During pregnancy, your body is also growing and sustaining your baby’s body; thus, you need more protein to support all of the work your body is doing. If you are lactating and breastfeeding and/or pumping, your body also benefits from extra protein, which can support baby’s nutritional intake and your milk supply.
You should get a minimum of 60 grams of protein a day during pregnancy and lactation; however, we suggest that patients aim for 80-100 grams per day. Studies indicate that pregnant people need to eat closer to 100 grams of protein in the later stages of pregnancy. Another way to look at it is that 18-23% of a pregnant person’s caloric intake should be from protein-rich foods.
We’d also like to note that protein-rich foods are important for their protein, but also because they supply much needed micronutrients, such as B12, iron, zinc, and omega-3. Check out the Evidence Based Birth podcast about nutrition in pregnancy for more information.
Benefits of Protein
As noted above, protein is life-giving! These are some of the other pregnancy-specific reasons birthing people need to be eating a protein-rich diet:
- Protein promotes blood sugar balance/stabilization
- Foods that are high in protein can satiate and offer longer-term energy boosts.
- A protein-rich diet helps prevent preeclampsia and preterm labor.
- Sufficient protein intake decreases the risk of baby being small for their gestational age.
What are High-Protein Foods
Meats, eggs, beans, lentils, peas, Greek yogurt, hummus, cottage cheese, sugar free peanut or almond butter, nuts, and seeds.
There are tons of great recipe ideas for high-protein meals on the internet. Pinterest can be a fun (and overwhelming) place to seek inspiration. This blog links to a list of protein-rich foods + their nutritional information, as well as snack ideas.
Please modify this list and/or pick the foods that work for you based on your dietary needs and cultural practices or considerations.
Sweet Child O’ Mine is Here to Support You
Your team of midwives is here to support you in feeling well during your pregnancy. We care about your health in a holistic way. During prenatal and postpartum visits, we will discuss your nutritional habits, energy levels, and activity. Feel free to bring any diet related questions to your next check in!
If you are currently building your birth team, we would be honored to be a part of your team; reach out and let us know how we can support you.