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7 Best Pregnancy-Safe Protein Powders For Moms 2023

Mitchelle Morgan

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Dr G. Michael DiLeo, MD

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Ritual Essential Protein for Pregnancy

Ritual Essential Protein

  • Has a complete protein profile
  • No added sugar
  • Contains choline

PlantFusion Complete Protein

PlantFusion Complete Protein

  • Digestive enzymes are present
  • Non-GMO
  • Allergen-free

Vega Protein & Greens

Vega Protein & Greens

  • Gluten-free
  • No added sugars
  • Pleasantly flavored

For reasons that are apparent (i.e., the combined physiology of mother and fetus), pregnant women require special dietary needs in addition to the standard nutrients all humans require. To grow a human in her uterus, a pregnant woman must ensure that her baby’s development is normal and healthy. It’s a time that’s critical for both the mother and the baby to maintain optimum nutrition.

Best Pregnancy-Safe Protein Powders For Moms on the market in (May. 2023)

What Is Protein?

Macronutrients[1] are food types required in substantial amounts for a healthy diet. On the list of vital nutrients are proteins[2], carbohydrates, and fats. Lately, protein has earned a lot of attention in weight-reduction diets, as substituting more of it for carbohydrates has been shown to result in weight loss[3]. Pregnancy is a psychologically confusing time because weight is gained, but this is the result of altering the balance of nutrients such that the combined maternofetal (mother + fetus) benefits; thus, weight gain is good, but for the expecting mother, it is alarming.

Before books were written on optimal pregnancy nutrition, evolution encouraged certain foods via cravings and discouraged others via morning sickness. With the research documenting diet and nutrition in pregnancy, we’ve come a long way from just letting cravings and aversions guide the way.

There are “complete” proteins–from meat–which have all amino acids; and “incomplete” proteins–from plant courses–which do not. So the trick to getting the right amount of protein is to get the complete amino acid components, which is done by consuming a wide range[4] of plant foods. 

Proteins are the building blocks[5] of the enzymes that run our bodies, powering countless chemical reactions that keep you alive. There are at least 10,000 different proteins. 

Protein is particularly critical in pregnancy since it aids in constructing, supporting, and maintaining cells, tissues, and muscles in your body and your baby’s developing body. Thus, it serves as an essential component of a baby’s development throughout pregnancy. Protein consumption becomes simple and convenient by using the best protein powders for pregnancy. 

Supplements are vital if your body cannot assimilate enough proteins from your food sources. Even as premade protein shakes for pregnancy, a powder protein supplement can help you meet your protein needs.

There are two sources of protein–animals, and vegetables. For a woman on a vegan diet, this is an important topic. While a shift away from animal protein to plant-sourced protein is protective against cardiovascular problems and cholesterol complications[6], in the pregnant woman, it may lead to deficiencies[7] in protein, iron, vitamin D, calcium, iodine, omega-3, and vitamin B-12. 

The Institute of Medicine[8] recommends adults get a minimum of 1.1 g of protein for every kg of body weight per day in the first trimester. This may increase to 1.52 g/kg[9] late in pregnancy.  Organizations also recommend that protein constitute anywhere around 108 grams during the third trimester. This is a very wide range, yet it isn’t the amount of protein that affects life expectancy but the type of protein. The protein needs in pregnancy, of course, are different than in a non-pregnant female in that proteins increase to[10] support the fetus, the placenta (which is another powerhouse of biochemistry[11] in action), and maternal stores.

Because all this information may involve some heavy arithmetic, read on to find all you need to know about the best protein powder for pregnant women when protein deficiency is a concern. However, it is important to know that such powder supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). So it’s crucial to know the ingredients and be wary of unexpected things like non-protein ingredients, added sugars, and potential contaminants.

Is Protein Powder Safe For Pregnancy?

Bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts are fond of drinking protein shakes, but can pregnant women drink protein shakes?

And the simple answer is yes. And in some cases, it may be a requirement.

Many pregnant women struggle to fulfill their increased prenatal protein needs. According to research[12], protein and essential amino acids are crucial, particularly in the second and third trimesters.  A recent clinical study indicated that 85% of women in the third trimester have protein intakes at or below the minimum recommended intakes.

On that note, pregnant women who are at a heightened risk of not getting enough protein include the ones who:

Use a plant-based diet

If you’re pregnant and you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet[7], you might want to consider taking a protein supplement since getting the “complete” amino acid supply is more challenging without meat. Protein powders become fundamental because non-meat diets are typically lower in protein, and plant proteins aren’t as easily assimilated as animal proteins. The good thing is that there are numerous plant-based protein powders or vegan protein powders on the market. Such powders should contain a combination of proteins to supply all nine essential amino acids to be the best protein supplement during pregnancy.

Struggle from vomiting and nausea

If a pregnant lady is experiencing nausea and vomiting and has to consume a challenging, time-consuming protein source such as poultry, meat, eggs, or fish, a protein powder in a protein shake would be ideal. Also, the extra iron in a meat protein source can worsen nausea during pregnancy. 

Is Protein Powder Safe For Breastfeeding?

According to a peer-reviewed journal[13] in the Biomed Central (BMC) Series, nutritional supplements during the last trimester of pregnancy and through the first two months of breastfeeding were well-tolerated and safe for the expectant mother and fetus and, subsequently, for breastfeeding infants.

How Much Protein Does A Pregnant Woman Need?

The general suggestion recommends a pregnant woman’s protein consumption be 70 to 100 grams[14] per day. However, it may vary depending on if you’re carrying more than one baby and any other particular circumstances. In such situations, your dietitian will be able to establish the precise quantity of protein your body needs. Getting the correct calorie/protein ratio depending on anticipated weight gain during pregnancy can be challenging.

The amount of protein needed is usually calibrated according to your body weight and the trimester you are in.

7 Best Pregnancy-Safe Protein Powders In 2023

Ritual Essential Protein

Ritual Essential protein powder for pregnant women is a complete protein powder manufactured from pea protein with the amino acid L-methionine[15] incorporated to make it vegan. The addition of the methionine makes this complete in all nine essential amino acids. So is it not only the editor’s best but also the best vegan protein powder in this listing!

  • This protein powder contains no added sugars.
  • It contains choline.
  • It offers pregnancy a supply of complete protein profiles.
  • The primary protein source is pea protein.
  • It is wonderfully flavored.
  • It is an expensive protein powder

Undertones of spices and caramel complement the vanilla flavor of Ritual’s powder. Monk fruit, natural flavors, and the sweetener Rebaudioside-M[16] are among the constituents.

Monk fruit and Reb-M, both low-calorie, high-intensity sweeteners, have a particular flavor that you may or may not like. Reb-M, for one, can leave an unpleasant bitter aftertaste.

Other substances that function as stabilizers are also included. While the ingredient list is a little larger, Ritual contains the mineral choline[17] in the protein powder, which is a plus. Choline is required for neural development[18], gene expression, and placental activity[19].

This protein powder can assist vegan moms in addressing crucial dietary shortages such as protein and choline.

Ritual is also Informed-Sport Certified, indicating that they have undergone third-party testing for toxins, including those prohibited in sports.

PlantFusion Complete Protein

PlantFusion is dedicated to employing only the most easily digestible and nutrient-dense plant sources. The brand offers the most hypoallergenic organic protein powder sold.

  • Non-GMO
  • Dairy-, soy-, nut-, and other allergen-free
  • It contains natural additives
  • It is a hypoallergenic protein powder
  • It includes a good amino acid profile
  • It consists of added digestive enzymes
  • It is not 100% organic due to a few artificial additives

Before consuming protein powder during pregnancy, you must be familiar with the ingredient list. Here are some of the active ingredients you will find in this vegan protein powder:

This protein powder has 21 grams of protein for every 30-gram scoop and only 2 grams of carbohydrates.

Pea protein isolate, organic sprouted amaranth powder, artichoke[25] protein, and organic sprouted quinoa powder make up the protein component of this product.

They’ve also included L-Isoleucine, L-Leucine, L-Valine, and L-Glutamine, all branched-chain amino acids[2]. These combine to create an excellent amino acid profile for lean muscle growth.

They’ve also included their unique digestive enzyme blend in conjunction with the protein. This is a beneficial ingredient that should aid in digestion and amino acid assimilation, which is often reduced in animal-based goods. Alpha-galactosidase and bromelain[26] are unique ingredients included in their formula placed there to aid in digestion.

They also used lucuma powder[27], Luo Han Guo Extract, yacon powder, stevia, and guar gum powder as flavors, stabilizers, and sweeteners.

Vega Protein & Greens

This protein powder is an entirely plant-based powder ideal for vegetarians. The protein content is 20 g per 2 scoops of greens. It has 120 calories. There is no added sugar, it’s non-GMO, and the flavors are natural and gluten-free.

  • It is easy to make a protein shake blend
  • It has pleasant-tasting flavors
  • It has no added sugars
  • It is gluten-free and non-GMO
  • A bit pricey compared to other brands

Vega Protein & Greens is a convenient protein supplement that can be consumed on the go or as a critical component for a healthy, balanced breakfast. In every serving, you get two servings of greens produced from 1.2 cups of vegetables and 20 grams of multi-sourced plant-based proteins from spinach, alfalfa[40], kale, and broccoli.

Brendan Brazier is a vegan, a professional Ironman triathlete, and a bestselling plant-based nutrition author; he’s also the brains behind this Canadian brand.

Valine, tyrosine, tryptophan, threonine, serine, proline, phenylalanine, methionine, lysine, leucine, isoleucine, histidine, glycine, glutamic acid, cysteine, aspartic acid, arginine, and alanine are all amino acids found in this protein supplement. The brand has a vegan certification available.

Ora So Lean & So Clean

The creators claim that it contains all of the essential and non-essential amino acids needed to form tissues and hormones in your system. Furthermore, they made So Lean & So Clean simple to blend and consume.

  • It is available in three delicious flavors: chocolate, vanilla chai, and vanilla
  • It contains 20 superfoods
  • It offers users two servings of greens per dosage.
  • This protein powder provides pregnant women with a complete protein profile
  • It is made with ingredients free of genetically modified ingredients (non-GMO), soy-, nut-, and dairy-free
  • Third-party tested
  • Some users received expired packages when they bought from Amazon
  • The taste may be too much for some pregnant women’s palates

The chef-created tastes offer a subtle sweetness that pairs well with water, smoothies, and baked goods.

The delicious protein powder is simple to combine and mix, and it may be consumed at any time of day. The manufacturers, however, recommend using it in the morning or mid-morning.

You can buy the protein powder one-time or order a 30-day, 45-day, or 60-day recurring subscription.

The ingredient profile lists chocolate, organic Jerusalem artichoke inulin[20], organic apple, organic pea protein, organic sacha inchi[21], organic strawberry, organic sprouted quinoa, organic kale, and organic amaranth[22], organic acerola extract, lactase, organic cocoa, and organic blackberry.

Additional ingredients include organic blueberry, organic pomegranate, organic cranberry, organic acai, organic broccoli[23], organic coconut milk, organic turmeric[24], amylase, neutral protease, lipase, cellulase, natural vanilla flavor, organic monk fruit extract, organic stevia extract, and organic rice protein.

Needed Collagen Protein Powder

The Needed Collagen Protein Powder is an unflavoured protein powder with one primary source of a protein called collagen. Collagen has numerous benefits to our skeleton and pelvic health, essential during and after childbirth. It is a specific type of protein, different from other types, e.g., animal and plant.

  • It is formulated with science-backed and expertly blended ingredients for a healthy pregnancy
  • Its protein type is collagen
  • It may help with the healthier growth of your nails and hair
  • It may help with bone health
  • It is easy to blend and has varied uses: soups, food, smoothies, and protein shakes
  • It may not be ideal for vegans
  • It is deficient in tryptophan, an essential amino acid

In addition to providing the necessary protein, the tasteless, ethically sourced, and simple-to-use collagen protein powder also includes additional benefits from collagen-derived protein. These include supporting bones and pelvic floor tissue and allowing for healthy skin[28] stretching, which may even help to prevent tearing, hence reducing the formation of stretch marks and the risk of tearing of the perineum during childbirth.

Collagen is also helpful in structuring blood vessels and other body tissues. However, collagen does not contain all of the nine essential amino acids and thus cannot be used for protein synthesis and many other crucial protein functions. Collagen is lacking in the essential amino acid, tryptophan, although it does contain the other eight essential amino acids.

It is composed of hydrolyzed bovine collagen[29], which is the closest identical to the collagen found naturally in our bodies, making it the easiest to digest and absorb. Bovine is so close to human collagen that it is used as grafts for people needing dialysis.

You won’t even realize it’s there because it blends seamlessly into smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, and soup. But don’t rely on it as a protein substitute as it does not contain all of the essential amino acids. It is great for other health benefits, as mentioned above.

Drink Wholesome Protein Powder

Pregnant mothers sensitive to dairy now have something to celebrate–drinking a protein shake that seamlessly blends with the beverage of their choice.

  • It is ideal for lactose-intolerant pregnant mothers since it is dairy-free
  • This protein powder has a few ingredients indicated clearly on the packaging
  • It is one of the few protein powders that offer both vegan and non-vegan options during pregnancy
  • It comes in two flavors, mocha and PB (Peanut butter) coconut
  • The brand does not have any United States Department of Agriculture( USDA) certifications or any other brand certification indicating third-party testing

The brand caters to both vegan and non-vegan lifestyles. They offer two varieties, one with an animal protein formula as the primary protein source and the other with a plant-based protein.

Non-vegans will appreciate egg[30] white-based protein powders that provide all nine essential amino acids required for good recovery and an overall healthy pregnancy. This flavor is packaged in a black ziplock bag.

Chicken peas and peanuts are the main sources of protein for vegans. With peanut proteins, you should be aware of the potential allergy. Thus, consult with your doctor before using this protein powder. If you are allergic, avoid such protein powders[31].

The product contains a controversial ingredient, the artificial sweetener, Sucralose[32], which has been shown to adversely alter the gut microbiome and cause elevated blood sugars, particularly when consumed with sources of carbohydrates. They are called controversial ingredients for our purposes because the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved them as safe but documentation exists as to the potential for harm in some individuals.

On the more aesthetic side, the mocha and the PB coconut are the two flavors. The mocha is a delightfully smooth, dairy-free milk chocolate flavor that would improve any vegetable-heavy smoothie or give a dessert-like topping to oatmeal or pastries.

At first sniff, the PB Coconut has a very organic and pleasant peanut scent. The eventual flavor that unfolds is a beautifully presented creamy peanut butter with faint hints of toasted coconut.

Boobie Body Organic Superfood Shake

Unlike any other product on this list, this one is the best protein powder for pregnant women right after birth due to its promoting a good milk supply. An expectant mother starts using this shortly before giving birth to help the milk glands produce milk in preparation for the baby’s arrival and breastfeeding needs.

  • This protein shake has a pleasant chocolate taste
  • It contains 0g of sugar per serving
  • It contains an organic blend of herbs and greens
  • It is rich in probiotics which help with gut health
  • This lactation-promoting protein shake boosts the milk supply
  • It does not contain fenugreek, a potent lactating ingredient to boost milk supply
  • If you like sweet tastes, you may have to add honey, sugar, or stevia for it

The Chocolate Bliss flavor is relatively light and almost plain. There is no sweetness at all. A faint chocolatey flavor is all there is to it. Unlike many protein powders on the market, it has no sugar per serving. Organic cane sugar juice is commonly used as a natural sweetener in different breastfeeding protein shake powders on the market.

It comprises an organic blend of herbs and greens to enhance milk supply, including moringa[33], Shatavari[34], and maca root as the primary ingredients. These herbal galactagogue ingredients[35] help the mother produce enough milk and offer high-quality milk with sufficient protein content beneficial for the child. A galactagogue is something that induces milk or improves the quality and quantity of milk, increasing the likelihood of successful breastfeeding.

Seeds, pea protein, and brown rice protein[36] make up most of the protein in Boobie Body. The brown rice protein is helpful in the mother’s mental health after birth during breastfeeding; it supplies selenium[37], one of the essentials for synthesizing thyroid hormone, the lack of which can lead to depression[38] and weight gain.

Boobie Body also provides probiotics[39] that can be helpful if you’ve had some stomach troubles. However, avoid taking it every day because taking probiotics every day for a year or more can overload your system with bacteria and produce even more discomfort and gas than previously.

Probiotics in your breastmilk also help the child have better gut health and even mitigate diarrhea.

How To Choose The Best Protein Shakes For Pregnancy?

As you select the best protein powder for pregnancy, please adhere to the following guidelines:

The Ingredient Profile

To ensure that you are using a safe protein powder that will not compromise your health and the baby’s, or your dietary philosophy, you must carefully read through the ingredient list. The complete protein ingredient list must include elements in the recommended daily dosages.

To fully confirm this, you should have your dietitian check out the protein supplements you may want to try out before making your first protein shake. They are in the best position to decipher even the ingredients listed with scientific names. Certainly, your doctor can help, but the “book knowledge” a dietitian has is simply more: years of study instead of just a course in med school.

The Certification

Check the label for organic and safety certificates to confirm the composition of the protein powder. Look for a vegan or plant-based protein powder if you’re a vegetarian and its official sanction by such certifications.

For plant-based protein powders, expect plant-based protein sources like pea protein, soy protein, and brown rice protein, to mention a few. The protein sources should be combined to provide all nine of the essential amino acids in a serving.

Consider The Additives In The Protein Powder

Avoid GMOs, artificial flavors, dyes, artificial sweeteners, gluten, soy, and other allergens and other particular substances to which you may be sensitive, or that may cause you potential harm. Going with organic and natural sweeteners plus flavoring should be the way to go for a sweet tooth.

Certain herbs[41] are also controversial and perhaps hazardous during pregnancy, so keep an eye on herbal ingredients. Again, another job for a dietitian.

Consider The Possible Interaction With Other Prenatal Supplements 

Expectant mothers are advised to supplement with additional nutrients like iron, folic acid, and calcium for a healthy baby during pregnancy. So do you know if they will interact positively with the protein shake?

Please consult your doctor and dietitian to get an educated and well-informed answer fully. They will address the issue from a medical perspective referencing the drug interactions, dosages, and possible effects from the nutritional perspective, respectively.

Precautions During Taking Protein Powders

As we have seen, prenatal protein powder is highly beneficial to pregnant women. But on the flip side, there are potential risks that could harm both the mum and the baby. Here are some of the precautions that you need to take when using high-protein powders during pregnancy:

Excessive Protein Intake

When you eat too much protein while pregnant, you risk[42] developing complications such as fetal death due to ammonia toxicity. If you eat a variety of protein-rich dishes regularly, you probably don’t require protein powder.

Expecting women who excessively consumed protein and too few carbs had slower-growing kids as per a 2014 review study[43] published in Scotland.

Pregnant women who ate a high-protein, low-carb diet also had a heightened probability of developing gestational diabetes, according to a study published in 2018[44].

Excessive Sugar Intake

In protein supplements, be on the lookout for hidden carbohydrates and artificial sweeteners. Sugar can induce harmful weight gain, which isn’t ideal for pregnancy. 

Artificial sweeteners and sometimes artificial flavors can also cause blood glucose levels to increase, which doesn’t mix well with an already 10% risk of developing gestational diabetes.

Only one scoop can contain as much as 23 g of sugar in certain protein powders. The American Heart Association[45] suggests that women consume no more than 25 grams of sugar each day.

Taking in controversial ingredients, such as artificial sweeteners, may have a harmful effect on the mother, which in turn could affect the unborn baby, so take care with controversial ingredients such as sucralose.

Toxic Substances Consumed

Not all protein powders are safe for pregnancy. Generally, protein powders are recognized as dietary supplements[46] by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and since the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements in the United States, just because it’s commercially available or from a big company doesn’t mean it’s harmless.

Actually, it’s the manufacturers of protein powders, including plant-based protein powders, who are responsible for ensuring the safety of their products and labeling them appropriately. This makes it hard for users to ascertain that whatever is on the label is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

There’s no way to know if you’re getting what the label states, especially if the brand has proprietary protein blends. To reassure yourself, always ensure that that brand is third-party tested for confirmation of its claims and assertions.

According to the Clean Label Project[47], you may be exposed to harmful, unlisted chemicals like heavy metals or pesticides. Allergens and other intolerable dietary additives may also be an insidious concern.

Whole foods like healthy fats, chia seeds, nuts, legumes, and meat should provide most of your protein. When you need protein powder for pregnancy, just add a scoop of a good protein powder.

Final Thought

Proteins and other nutrients are vital for both the mother’s and the unborn child’s well-being during pregnancy and beneficial for the newborn during lactation. And in as much as healthy foods supply the bulk of these elements, sometimes doctors may offer some recommended protein powders and other dietary supplements for a healthy pregnancy. 

Pregnancy is just weird from the biochemistry standpoint, dependent on balanced nutritional physiology that can become unbalanced. Partner with your doctor and dietitian if something goes awry.

It becomes fundamental to select only the best pregnancy-safe protein powders on the market to experience a safe pregnancy and delivery, so much so that the essential part of the process is choosing protein powders that offer only the best; there should be no shortcuts whatsoever.

The entire process MUST be guided and supervised by a dietitian with pregnancy experience. They have the last word if you take a whey protein isolate, grass-fed whey protein, collagen protein, or a vegan protein powder. Drinking protein shakes during pregnancy should be a critical topic, and it deserves care and scrutiny to ensure that the protein powder is safe for both mum and child.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of protein powder should I avoid during pregnancy?

Hormones can become a much more significant concern when using dairy-based protein powders comprising casein and whey. Avoid whey protein powder when pregnant because dairy products often include traces of hormones[48] like rBGH (bovine growth hormone), which is harmful to the baby. Avoid products with controversial ingredients if you feel you may be affected by them.

Can I still use protein powders when I am breastfeeding?

Yes, you can use them. Use protein powders with ingredients that promote milk supply and mental health.

Can I mix protein powder with other drinks?

Yes. You can mix your protein powder with water or milk to create a protein shake to enjoy.

When do I need protein powder?

As a pregnant woman, you may have a protein shake after getting the suggestion from your OBGYN. It’s good when you are not getting enough protein from food sources or experiencing extreme nausea and vomiting.

Can pregnant women drink protein shakes?

Yes, they can. As long as it’s a pregnancy-safe protein shake, it’s okay.

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Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

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Mitchelle Morgan

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

Mitchelle Morgan is a health and wellness writer with over 10 years of experience. She holds a Master's in Communication. Her mission is to provide readers with information that helps them live a better lifestyle. All her work is backed by scientific evidence to ensure readers get valuable and actionable content.

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

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