Protein in Urine During Pregnancy: Causes, Meaning of the Grades, and Management

Each prenatal visit, you’re given a urine test to check for protein in your urine. If you have high levels of proteins, you might be at risk of having high proteinuria as well. What is protein in urine, the reasons why it occurs and what are the strategies to fight it? If you know zilch about it, let’s find out right now.

What is proteinuria during pregnancy?

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Proteinuria during pregnancy means that protein that should be found in blood is found in the urine – the amount of protein exceeds 300 mg in a 24-hour period during gestation.

Our kidneys filter blood that passes through and return “clean” blood to our body that is cleared of metabolic waste. The metabolic waste is expelled through urine while the proteins are transported by blood and circulated in the body. When the kidneys aren’t able to work well and the amount of proteins in the blood is at a level higher than the usual amount, this can lead to protein in urine.

Reasons why pregnant women have proteinuria during pregnancy

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Your kidneys not only have to filter your own blood, but also they have to filter your baby’s blood too. The increase in blood volume since the start of pregnancy also increase the “overtime” that your kidneys have to do in order to filter all the blood.

Lack of exercise can also contribute to this and cause expecting moms to get proteinuria during pregnancy.

Risks associated with protein in urine during pregnancy


If you have proteinuria, you should start worrying about your health and paying more attention to it, especially since you’re pregnant. Proteinuria is a sign that you’re at risk of gestational hypertension, which can lead to preeclampsia.

Having protein in urine is one of the three signs of gestational hypertension, the other two being edema (swelling) and high blood pressure. This could further lead to liver and kidney problems, seizures, placental abruption, and many other complications that can put the mother and fetus in danger. As a result, the prenatal urine test you take each time will help your practitioner monitor your condition and is important for early prevention.

Making sense of the different protein urine grade

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Protein levels in urine are graded as “negative, trace, 1+, 2+, 3+, 4+”, with “1+” being the least serious form of proteinuria. Having a score in the negative range actually means that one is healthy (normal range), and the “+” sign indicates an increase in protein. Note that protein in urine also appears when you’re not pregnant. For instance, when you are tired, dehydrated, stressed; when you have the flu, a fever or other acute illnesses.

  • Urine is graded “1+”
  • Blood pressure is in a normal range

How to deal with proteinuria during pregnancy?

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Whether you have serious or mild uric proteinuria, you have to act quickly. The following are recommended ways you can start changing your diet and lifestyle this very day.


Reduce salt intake

Craving for sour food or even some salty snacks during pregnancy isn’t all too uncommon. An increase in salt intake will result in higher levels of protein in urine, so try to stay away from salty foods. Reduce the amount of salt you add to your food when you cook at home and make it a point to eat less salt.


Reduce sugar intake

Cakes, sweets, desserts – everything that screams sugar! should be removed from your diet as much as possible, especially if you have a sweet tooth. A decrease in salt intake will decrease the burden on your kidneys.


Weigh yourself and manage your weight

Your appetite during the second and third trimester might get much better, but don’t use it as an excuse to overeat all the time. Weight management isn’t easy and you don’t want to pile on extra weight and face the music in terms of gestational hypertension or preeclampsia later on. It might be difficult to completely reduce salt and sugar intake to zero, but make an effort to reduce the amounts you’re taking in.


Rest and relax

Rest well and relax. When you take some time out to recharge yourself and deal with your stress, you’ll be able to deal with any health complications or problems better.

Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today

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If you’re already seeing a “1+” on your test, don’t let the numbers climb. Don’t hand the reins to your practitioner and wash your hands off managing your diet. It’s important that you stay in control and do what you can to lead a healthy lifestyle. Each and every meal can play a big part in helping lower protein in your urine, so it’s never too late to start now! Don’t leave until tomorrow what you can do for your baby today.