How to Choose the Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy

Fill the gaps in your diet with a convenient, safe protein powder for pregnancy.
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By Emma O'Regan-Reidy, Associate E-Commerce Editor
Published May 14, 2023
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Protein plays an important role in any diet, especially during pregnancy. In an ideal world, we’d be eating the perfect ratio of proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins and water on a daily basis, but—let’s be honest—that just isn’t realistic sometimes. However, getting into the habit of a more balanced diet during pregnancy doesn’t have to take up all your time or cost a small fortune. One quick, surefire way to supplement your protein intake? Pregnancy-safe protein powder. Luckily, there are plenty of options on the market today to keep you and baby nourished throughout all three trimesters. Below, read expert-backed advice on how pregnancy protein powders could benefit you—then, shop our top picks for every need and preference.

Is Protein Powder Safe for Pregnancy?

First things first: Is protein powder safe for pregnancy? The answer isn’t black and white. According to Ryann Kipping, MPH, RDN, CLEC, founder of The Prenatal Nutritionist, “some are, and some aren’t. It depends on the ingredients inside the protein powder.” She recommends sticking to supplements that contain very few ingredients and limited preservatives and additives. All in all, protein powders shouldn’t be a replacement for nutrient- and vitamin-rich meals; “the majority of your daily protein must come from food sources,” explains Kipping.

You may also be wondering, is whey protein safe during pregnancy? While whey itself is safe for pregnancy, confirms Kipping, you should also take into account what else is on the ingredient list. Avoid whey protein if you’re allergic or sensitive to dairy.

Benefits of Consuming Pregnancy-Safe Protein Powders

When eating for two, your daily caloric needs will increase, at least during the second or third trimester. The same goes for your protein intake. “Protein needs are higher during pregnancy and continue to climb through each trimester,” says Kipping. The heightened demand may be challenging to meet consistently, especially during periods of nausea, vomiting and severe food aversions, explains Kipping. This is where pregnancy-safe protein powder can come in handy. It offers a convenient way to increase your protein intake, which supports the growth and development of baby. Another benefit: The added nutrients will keep you feeling energized, says Kipping.

So, exactly how much protein does a pregnant woman need? Everyone’s daily nutritional needs are different and dependent on a variety of factors—however, most moms-to-be require at least 80 grams of protein per day during the first half of pregnancy, explains Kipping. In the second half of pregnancy, this amount increases to 100 grams per day. Keep these numbers in mind when figuring out how much protein powder you’ll be using to supplement your diet.

What To Look For In Protein Powders for Pregnancy

First and foremost, “the point of a protein powder for pregnancy is to increase your protein intake, so the main ingredients should be a protein source,” says Kipping. Examples include pea protein, collagen, hemp seeds or whey. After identifying the main protein sources, there should (ideally) only be a few other items on the list, advises Kipping. These additional ingredients may be necessary for the integrity of the product, such as sea salt, xanthan gum or monk fruit, to name a few.

One caveat: Protein powders are not approved by the FDA, meaning it’s up to individual manufacturers to regulate their products. With this in mind, opt for supplements that have been third-party tested, says Kipping. This voluntary testing verifies the quality, purity and safety of a product’s contents. Kipping suggests that expectant moms look for pregnancy-safe protein powders that have been approved by the Clean Label Project.

Best Pregnancy-Safe Protein Powder Options to Shop

Now that you have all the facts, shopping for pregnancy-safe protein powders will be a breeze. Here, check out our top picks, from tantalizing chocolate and vanilla blends to convenient pre-mixed drinks.

Best overall protein powder for pregnancy

Prenatal Collagen Protein
Image: Needed

This pick from Needed. checks all of the boxes on our list when it comes to naming the best protein powder for pregnancy. When looking at the supplement’s ingredients list, you’ll notice there’s only one: hydrolyzed bovine collagen. We love how this pregnancy-safe protein powder is free from artificial sweeteners and sugars—plus, the simple formula is easily absorbed and digested. For peace of mind, know that this protein source is ethically sourced and has been third-party tested. Seamlessly incorporate it into your daily routine by adding it to coffee, smoothies or oatmeal at any stage of pregnancy.

Weight: 16 oz. | Serving size: 15 grams | Protein per serving: 14 grams

What We Love
  • Every batch is third-party tested
  • Only made with one ingredient
  • Simple formula is easy to absorb and digest
  • Specifically formulated for pregnancy; can be consumed through all three trimesters
Things To Consider
  • High price point

Best budget-friendly protein powder for pregnancy

Ensuring you get all the protein you need during pregnancy doesn’t have to break the bank. Case in point: This vegan, budget-friendly option. With this pick, you’ll get just over 2 lbs. of organic, plant-based powder with a palate-pleasing vanilla taste. The first ingredients listed on this supplement are organic pea protein and organic brown rice protein, so you can count on it to meet your nutritional needs. This pregnancy-safe protein powder comes in more than a dozen flavors, including horchata, iced coffee, strawberies and cream and pumpkin spice—yum!

Weight: 2.03 lbs. | Serving size: 46 grams | Protein per serving: 21 grams

What We Love
  • Free from lactose, gluten, dairy, soy, added sugar, GMOs and preservatives
  • USDA Organic, vegan formula
  • Comes in a variety of flavors
  • Affordable price point
Things To Consider
  • Reviewers say it has an aftertaste of stevia
  • Larger serving size than other options
  • Not specifically intended for pregnancy

Best plant-based protein powder for pregnancy

Essential Protein Daily Shake Pregnancy and Postpartum
Image: Ritual

Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or mainly plant-based, this pregnancy-safe protein powder is for you. Created with the pregnancy and postpartum periods in mind, this option can be enjoyed throughout all three trimesters—and beyond. Its main ingredient is organic pea protein, and it’s free from gluten and other major allergens. Another highlight: It contains 250 grams of choline, which the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) notes as playing a role in baby’s prenatal brain development. If that’s not all, the protein powder for pregnancy has a delicious flavor profile with layers of vanilla, caramel and hints of spice.

Weight: 1 lb. | Serving size: 30 grams | Protein per serving: 20 grams

What We Love
  • Formula includes 250 grams of choline to support baby’s development
  • Free from stevia, sugar and artificial ingredients
  • Third-party testing by Informed Sport
Things To Consider
  • Reviewers say the package doesn’t reseal easily
  • High price point

Best organic protein powder for pregnancy

Mama Bird Prenatal Protein Powder for Women
Image: Amazon

Searching for an organic protein powder for pregnancy? You can’t go wrong with this product from Mama Bird. It’s made from just a handful of natural ingredients—including organic pea and hemp proteins—and is vegan to boot. This pregnancy-safe protein can be enjoyed as is, or added to milk, fruit or nut butter for a tasty snack.

Weight: 12.6 oz. | Serving size: 21 grams | Protein per serving: 15 grams

What We Love
  • USDA Organic and vegan
  • Free from gluten, major allergens and artificial flavors
  • Third-party tested
Things To Consider
  • Small container size

Best chocolate protein powder for pregnancy

Have pregnancy cravings made you chocolate-obsessed? This pregnancy-safe protein powder has got you covered. Just one serving of this chocolate truffle-flavored formula will help you reach 40 percent of your daily protein intake. We also love that it contains collagen to support muscle and joint health, plus natural electrolytes for added hydration. Better yet, it’s made without GMOs and free from gluten, as well as other major allergens.

Weight: 1.18 lbs. | Serving size: 25.4 grams | Protein per serving: 20 grams

What We Love
  • Offers hydration, muscle and joint health support
  • Third-party tested
Things To Consider
  • Not suitable for vegans or vegetarians
  • High price point

Best vanilla protein powder for pregnancy

Baby Booster Tahitian Vanilla Prenatal Vitamin Supplement and Protein Shake
Image: Amazon

Prefer vanilla? Opt for this pregnancy-safe protein powder. With each serving, you’ll get 20 grams of protein, so you can count on meeting your daily nutritional goals with ease. Other key ingredients include folate, vitamin B6 and omega-3s, all of which nurture baby’s prenatal development. Mix this powder into your favorite milk-based beverage or add it to a blender with your go-to smoothie ingredients for a nourishing meal supplement in no time.

Weight: 1 lb. | Serving size: 32 grams | Protein per serving: 20 grams

What We Love
  • Contains folate, vitamin B6 and DHA to support baby’s development
  • Free from caffeine, soy, gluten and hormones
  • No artificial sweeteners and preservatives
Things To Consider
  • Hasn’t been third-party tested
  • Not suitable for vegans

Best pregnancy-safe protein powder for breastfeeding moms

If you’re expecting and breastfeeding, you’ll want a workhorse protein powder for pregnancy that takes both needs into account. Enter: Boobie’s superfood shake. Its formula is organic, plant-based and consists of pea protein to keep you feeling nourished and energized. Plus, it’s intended to be consumed as a meal replacement shake rather than just a supplement. Not a fan of smoothies? This pregnancy-safe protein powder can also be added to baked goods recipes—delicious!

Weight: 1.46 lbs. | Serving size: 33 grams | Protein per serving: 19 grams

What We Love
  • Created with pregnancy and breastfeeding in mind
  • Free from fenugreek, caffeine, soy, dairy, gluten and GMOs
  • USDA Organic and Kosher certified
  • Comes in several flavors
Things To Consider
  • Hasn’t been third-party tested

Best premixed protein drinks for pregnancy

Quest Nutrition Protein Shake
Image: Walmart

Last on our list of the best pregnancy-safe protein powders is this premixed shake. Each travel-friendly container contains 30 grams of protein per serving, making it simple for on-the-go moms-to-be to achieve a well-rounded diet. Better yet, these shakes are made without caffeine, gluten and GMOs. If you’re not a fan of salted caramel, you can also choose from vanilla or chocolate instead. Buying in bulk? Amazon offers packs of 12 shakes for added convenience.

Weight: 44 fl oz. | Serving size: 11 fl oz. | Protein per serving: 30 grams

What We Love
  • Offers most protein per serving out of any product on our list
  • Convenient, premixed shakes for on-the-go protein
  • Comes in several flavors
Things To Consider
  • Hasn’t been third-party tested
  • Not specifically intended for pregnancy
  • Packaging isn’t recyclable

How We Chose the Best Protein Powders for Pregnancy

Pregnancy comes with a lot of change—and that includes new dietary needs. To help you meet your increased protein requirements on a daily basis, we’ve done the research and identified top pregnancy-safe protein powders from trusted brands and retailers. When sourcing powders, we took into account a list of criteria, including ingredient lists, third-party testing, affordability, flavor, product size and, of course, safety. We read user reviews to understand how these products work for real expectant moms, and didn’t consider anything with less than an average four-star rating.

To make sure we’re highlighting products that are safe and effective, we chatted with a prenatal nutritionist to understand essential ingredients and safety considerations to keep top of mind when you’re shopping. We also looked for seals of approval from the USDA, Clean Label Project and other key organizations for added peace of mind.

Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.

About the expert:

Ryann Kipping, MPH, RDN, CLEC, is the founder and CEO of The Prenatal Nutritionist. Kipping earned her degree in nutritional sciences at the University of Oklahoma and holds a master’s in public health from San Diego State University. She regularly posts prenatal nutrition content on Instagram at @prenatalnutritionist.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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