4. Nutrient Metabolism in Pregnancy

  1. Emma Derbyshire BSc, PhD, RNutr

Published Online: 6 OCT 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444344790.ch4

Nutrition in the Childbearing Years

Nutrition in the Childbearing Years

How to Cite

Derbyshire, E. (2011) Nutrient Metabolism in Pregnancy, in Nutrition in the Childbearing Years, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, West Sussex, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444344790.ch4

Author Information

  1. Senior Lecturer and Researcher in Human Nutrition, Manchester Metropolitan University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 6 OCT 2011
  2. Published Print: 30 SEP 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444333053

Online ISBN: 9781444344790



  • nutrient metabolism;
  • energy metabolism;
  • carbohydrate metabolism;
  • protein metabolism;
  • iron metabolism


Metabolic changes throughout pregnancy are extensive and not the same for every expectant mother. Nutritional status before pregnancy, genetic factors and maternal lifestyle can all influence the metabolic changes that occur during pregnancy. From a nutritional perspective, metabolic adjustments take place to help regulate energy balance and the exchange of nutrients between the mother and her foetus. In the early phases of pregnancy, the body is in an ‘anabolic state’, accruing tissue reserves, but this shifts towards a ‘catabolic state’ in the later stages of pregnancy with nutrients becoming increasingly available for foetal growth. Although these processes are tightly regulated to promote maternal and foetal well-being when metabolic pathways are not regulated, this can impact upon maternal health and result in poor pregnancy outcomes. The main aim of this chapter is to discuss how energy balance and nutrient pathways are regulated throughout pregnancy.