Iron Deficiency: Anemia During Pregnancy

It’s not uncommon for a woman to develop anemia during pregnancy. Anemia, which refers to an iron deficiency, can cause complications for you and your baby which is why it’s important to know the signs of anemia as well as the steps you can take to prevent it.

Why Does It Happen

When a woman gets pregnant her blood needs to contain not only enough iron for her own needs but for her baby's as well. Since your blood levels increase by fifty percent when you get pregnant, you need enough iron to meet your new needs. And since many women are barely getting the right amount of iron for their own blood in the first place, it’s not surprising that so few manage to get enough for their new addition as well.

Some other things that can cause anemia in pregnancy are heavy menstrual flows prior to pregnancy and even morning sickness. Women with heavy periods commonly have an iron deficiency which worsens with pregnancy. And morning sickness that causes frequent vomiting can also leave you low in iron.

Signs That You’re Anemic

While a blood test is the best way to confirm anemia during pregnancy, there are signs that you can look out for. You should note that some of the symptoms of anemia can be quite similar to those that you’d expect to feel during pregnancy anyway, such as feeling weak, tired and dizzy. There are others that will be easier to spot, such as: pale skin, pale fingernails, lack of color to the inside of your lower eyelid, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat and even palpitations.

Should you feel any of these symptoms you need to see your doctor who can rule out any other conditions and confirm that you are indeed anemic.

What You Can Do

Getting the iron you need can be a little tricky but it’s a must to avoid anemia in pregnancy. A good start is to take a prenatal vitamin as soon as you find out that you’re pregnant. As a matter of fact, beginning prenatal vitamins when you’re trying to get pregnant is often recommended in order to give you a head start.

Eating a well balanced diet and increasing foods high in iron is another healthy and natural way to get the iron you need. Foods like liver and red meats, broccoli, beans, prunes and cereals that are iron-fortified are great sources of iron.

Should You Take An Iron Supplement?

Before taking an iron supplement to deal with anemia in pregnancy you should consult your doctor who can recommend the best amount for your specific case. If an iron supplement is recommended, consult with your doctor on which type is right for you. The best iron for your body will depend on your specific needs, and tolerance to certain ingredients. The most common types of iron include: ferrous sulfate and carbonyl iron. 

Too much iron can cause several unwanted symptoms and complications, which is why it's not recommended to choose a dose on your own.

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