During pregnancy, your body needs more proteins basically for:
Growth of your baby
Development of the placenta
Enlargement of the uterus and breasts
Increasing the blood volume in your body
Formation of amniotic fluid that is present in the uterus
Preparation of your body for labour, delivery and lactation
So, what are proteins?
Proteins are like necklaces made from beads of different sizes and shapes. These beads are called amino acids. Your body needs amino acids to make various body proteins that are needed for normal functioning.Certain amino acids have to be obtained from proteins in your diet, as your body cannot make them. These are called essential amino acids.
So do all foods provide the same quality proteins? The answer is no..
Protein foods that contain all the essential amino acids are called complete protein or good quality proteins. Animal food sources are therefore, considered as good quality proteins. Whereas, vegetarian sources of protein (except for soya bean) lack some of the essential amino acids.
However, vegetarians do not despair!! Combining different kinds of foods can help you achieve good quality proteins. Cereals or millets when combined with pulses or legumes complement each other to provide good quality proteins.
So, how much protein do you need during pregnancy?
National Institute of Nutrition recommends that Indian pregnant women should consume 78 g of protein per day. Your protein requirements are especially high during the second and third trimesters.
You can increase your protein intake by:
Having a toast/chapathi with peanut butter, paneer/cheese spreads
Adding a scrambled egg/fish for lunch or dinner
Snacking on a handful of soy nuts/groundnuts
Adding kidney beans, chickpeas or low-fat cheese cubes to your salad
Having yoghurt or thick lassi as afternoon snacks
Drinking a glass of skimmed milk at bedtime