How Much Protein a Pregnant Woman Needs

Written by Ben Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert.

Pregnancy is a period that many people cherish, it is defined as the time from conception to birth. It is typically divided into three trimesters, each approximately three months long.

This is a time of great change. Women’s nutrient requirements change greatly, and many women struggle to know what they need to eat for themselves and their babies.

Additional Nutrients

There are few nutrients needed more than folic acid during pregnancy. Folic acid helps the baby create new cells, supports brain development, reduces the risk of neural tube defects, and may help prevent heart disease. Women should take 400 micrograms of folic acid per day before they get pregnant and during pregnancy.

While there are some benefits to being pregnant, it can be hard to tell if you’re having a healthy pregnancy or not. There are many symptoms of being pregnant that may seem unusual and, perhaps, distressing, yet are completely normal.

These include regular menstrual cycles, morning sickness, feeling more tired than usual, mood changes such as occasional sadness for no apparent reason.

The nutritional needs of pregnant people are quite different from those who are not carrying a child. Pregnant women need more protein, iron, vitamin A, and folic acid plus many more. These nutrients are especially crucial during the first three months of pregnancy.

An article published by the Nature Reviews of Endocrinology explains that if these required additional nutrients aren’t consumed during pregnancy, they risk developing various nutritional deficiencies or compromising the health of their baby that may result in reduced birth weight.

Therefore, it is clear that a pregnant woman needs to consume foods high of nutritional value to provide for the baby. This also helps protect her own health. Pregnant women should take a prenatal vitamin every day such as folic acid and vitamin D in addition to eating healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. It is also recommended that pregnant women do not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes.

It is also necessary for pregnant women to increase their calorie intake. This is because they need more calories to support the growing baby and provide treatments for themselves.

The U.S Department of Health and Human Services recommends that during the second trimester 340 extra calories are needed daily and in the third trimester an additional 450 calories should be consumed.

When trying for a baby, it is advised that you eat nutritious foods that can help improve your fertility, you should continue with eating healthy foods, that are high in nutritional value throughout pregnancy as well. To avoid the risks of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes Do not be tempted to eat foods merely high in calories and saturated fats.


Protein is a compound that is made up of amino acids. When we eat, our body takes the amino acids and forms peptides and proteins. It can also make them from scratch when it needs to or when they are not consumed in sufficient quantity. Protein performs many different functions in the body such as providing structure for cells and tissues, sending signals to other cells, and forming hormones.

Protein provides you with energy by breaking down into glucose when needed. For many years people believed that protein was only important for muscle growth but recently we know that it is essential for bones and blood cells as well.

There are two major types of protein: complete and incomplete. Protein from meat sources is usually considered complete with all the essential amino acids needed by humans while plant-based sources (except for soy and quinoa) tend to be missing one or more essential amino acids.

Therefore, if you aren’t following a vegetarian or vegan diet, a great way to get enough protein is by eating animal sources such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products like milk and cheese.

There are plenty of plant protein sources such as peas, legumes, nuts, seeds, grains, and corn but be sure to include soy and or quinoa to get all of the amino acids, if not you may need to use a supplement.

Protein is the building block of the muscles and an important nutrient for pregnant women. Protein is essential to make babies grow and develop. A protein deficiency can lead to many complications during pregnancy, including an increased risk of premature birth, anemia, bone loss, or other conditions. It has been observed in studies that protein is the most important macronutrient during pregnancy to have a positive influence on birth weight.

Protein Recommendations

The British Nutrition Foundation recommends that an average female requires approximately 46 grams of protein per day.

Based on the assumption of an average woman’s needs during pregnancy, the Medical Clinics of North America recommend that pregnant women consume 60 grams of protein per day or 1.1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. Therefore, a woman who weighs 70kg (154lbs) would need 77 grams of protein daily.


There’s little information available based on the nutrient requirements for pregnancy with twins, yet, research published in the peer-reviewed Biomedical Central Journal suggests that there’s an additional 40% requirement of calories per day and an additional 20% protein need.


It is recommended by The American Academy of Pediatrics that the child is exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months and then breastfeeding is to be continued until they are 1 alongside the introduction of complementary foods.

During lactation, the need for additional nutrients increases even further. International guidelines dictate that an additional 21 grams of protein are consumed during breastfeeding when it forms the sole dietary intake for the baby, this can be reduced to 14 grams of protein when breastfeeding becomes a supplementary part of the infant’s diet.


During pregnancy, it is key to understand that not only additional protein is required (by a significant margin) but so are many micronutrients and other macronutrients.

It is imperative that during pregnancy calorie intake is increased by consuming foods of a high nutritional value to support the growth and development of the child notwithstanding maintaining good health of the mother.

Furthermore, this additional nutrient intake needs to reflect the pregnancy, so if more than one baby is expected, tweaks need to be made to ensure there aren’t any deficiencies.