The Importance of Protein for Fertility and a Healthy Pregnancy
While many of us have heard about how important protein is as a part of our healthy diet, women often have questions about protein consumption during pregnancy and during the pre-conception time leading up to pregnancy.
If you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, this post is for you.
PROTEIN: What It Does For The Body (And Baby)
Sets the stage even before conception. Consistently adequate protein intake before conception is important, since women with low nutritional status at conception are more likely to have low birth weight babies.1,3
Protein helps balance blood sugar levels. Having balanced blood sugar is important for both fertility and during pregnancy. Prior to conception, balanced blood sugar levels help to regulate hormones and aid in regular ovulation and an adequate luteal phase. During pregnancy, balanced blood sugar levels help reduce nausea in the first trimester in addition to reducing the risk of acquiring gestational diabetes and maintaining energy levels.1
It increases the odds. Adequate protein (25-40% of your total dietary intake) may increase your chances of becoming pregnant when undergoing IVF. In addition to this, if your total diet contains at least 5% protein from vegan sources such as the easy to digest pea protein found in many Clean Lean Protein products by Nuzest, your chances of regular ovulation increase by up to 50%.3,4
It nourishes your uterine tissue during pregnancy. Before an embryo becomes a fetus and begins receiving protein nourishment via the umbilical cord, mom’s body nourishes the embryo with uterine secretions—which include protein. In fact, amino acids play the most important role in the development of the embryo. During pregnancy, your body needs MORE protein.1,2,3
It regulates cells as they multiply and coordinate. Protein regulates genes and how our cells communicate, and determines immune and neurological function.
It provides building blocks for mom’s and baby’s body, hormones, and brain. Protein is a crucial building block for every tissue, from muscles and bones to hair and skin—for you and your growing baby. It also supplies the raw materials for the amino acid derived hormones and neurotransmitters. When you’re pregnant, you need MORE protein so adding in a protein supplement during pregnancy, such as a protein shake, can support your needs and the needs of your growing baby.1
It allows your blood volume to expand. This helps support the uterus (and all its hard work) as your baby grows.1
It keeps mom’s body healthy. When mom’s body doesn’t have adequate amino acids (proteins building blocks) to pass along to the baby, her body breaks down (catabolizes) her own tissues (usually muscle) to obtain more.1
How To Incorporate More Protein Into Your Pre-Conception Or Pregnancy Diet
Ensure each meal and snack has a protein component. While SUPER high protein in your diet isn’t necessary, you want to ensure you’re getting 80-100 g/day and possibly more if you’re active.
- Breakfast could include organic eggs (bonus source of choline), or a bowl of protein oats.
- Lunch could have at least 4 oz of lean chicken or lentils into a salad or rice bowl.
- Dinner could include a solid serving of grass-fed beef, tempeh, or salmon.
- As a Midwife and Women’s Wellness Coach, I recommend that women add in shakes or bars and protein powders for snacks once a day or when they just can’t get another source of protein into their diet (e.g. when nauseated). It makes it easy to meet your 80-100 g/day requirement. Nuzest’s Clean Lean Protein and Digestive Support Protein are easy to digest and safe for use during pregnancy because they contain all the ingredients you want (including being a natural source of non-heme iron) and none you want to avoid when pregnant or trying to conceive, such as artificial sweeteners, flavors and gums, or stabilizers. It’s best to avoid any protein powder with unnecessary additives, sweeteners, or stimulants, as well.
- Baby Making and Beyond ©, Liz Wolfe and Meghanne Reburn RM www.babymakingandbeyond.com