Do You Need To Take Iron Supplements During Pregnancy
If you are anemic, your health care provider may prescribe an iron supplement. Some iron supplements may cause heartburn, constipation or nausea. Here are some tips to avoid or reduce these problems:
- Take the supplement on an empty stomach. If it upsets your stomach, take the supplement with a small amount of food.
- Take the supplement with orange juice or a vitamin C supplement.
- Don’t take a supplement with dairy products , eggs, high-fiber foods , spinach, tea or coffee. Don’t take an iron supplement if you’re taking an antacid.
Last reviewed: December, 2013
Will I Be Checked For Anaemia During My Pregnancy
If youre carrying more than one baby you should have an extra blood test at 20-24 weeks.
This will give you enough time to get treatment if you need it.
You can call your midwife at any time if you think you have anaemia symptoms and you can be tested for anaemia at any point in your pregnancy. You dont have to wait for your antenatal appointments or for routine tests
I had anaemia before I was pregnant with my son, which was treated. Im pregnant again and have been feeling the same tired and run down. Ive told my midwife and am waiting for the results of my blood test.
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What Is Anemia In Pregnancy
Anemia occurs when not enough hemoglobin is produced. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein in your blood that transports oxygen. This means your body is not getting enough oxygen-rich blood if youre anemic. During pregnancy, your body needs iron to help your baby grow. Pregnant women actually need twice as much iron to support a healthy birth weight and development.
If you are not getting enough iron, you may have shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, or irregular heartbeat. Mild anemia is common and can occur in anyone. Some people have a higher risk for anemia, including:
- Women during their menstrual periods
- People who donate blood frequently
- People who take certain medications or treatments
Anemia during pregnancy can raise the risk of premature birth or low-birth-weight for your baby. Premature birth can increase their risk for health and developmental problems. If you are experiencing severe anemia symptoms, you should talk to your doctor.
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Which Foods Are High In Iron
You can help lower your risk of anemia by eating foods that contain iron during your entire pregnancy. Foods high in iron include:
- Spinach and other dark leafy greens
Foods containing vitamin C can increase the amount of iron your body absorbs. So it’s a good idea to eat foods like orange juice, tomatoes, strawberries and grapefruit every day.
Calcium and coffee, tea, egg yolks, fiber and soybeans can block your body from absorbing iron. Try to avoid these when eating iron-rich foods.
Prevention Of Anemia During Pregnancy
Preventing anemia during pregnancy is as easy as changing, or making additions, to your diet. Medical professionals recommend a pregnant woman eat 30 mg of iron each day.Examples of iron-rich foods are:
- Lean, red meats and poultry
- Dark, leafy green vegetables
- Beans, lentils, and tofu
Because it can be a challenge to eat as much iron as is suggested during pregnancy, taking iron supplements is recommended in addition to consuming these foods. Foods that are high in vitamin C can actually help the body absorb more iron, so it is beneficial to make these additions as well.Vitamin C rich foods include:
- Citrus fruits and juices
Iron Deficiency Anemia In Women Of Reproductive Age
In 2011, 29% of non-pregnant women and 38% of pregnant women aged 1549 years were anemic, of which about 20 million had severe anemia. Although IDA is most frequent in low-income countries, recent data show that 4050% of European non-pregnant women have low iron body stores. Women are known to have a much higher iron deficiency prevalence compared to men of the same age the prevalence rate is about 10-times higher than males. This difference is mostly due to regular blood loss during menstruation, which is often associated with low iron intake., Adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable to this condition because of the elevated iron request for rapid growth, and menstrual blood loss., Furthermore, several conditions can play a determinant role in favoring insufficiency of iron in women, such as chronic gynecologic bleeding due to uterine fibroids,- endometriosis,- adenomyosis, or endometrial hyperplasia. Moreover, intestinal malabsorption problems, frequent blood donation, and benign and malignant gastrointestinal lesions are other causes of IDA in women.,,
Risks Of Anemia In Pregnancy
Severe or untreated iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy can increase your risk of having:
- A preterm or low-birth-weight baby
- A blood transfusion
- Postpartum depression
- A child with developmental delays
Untreated folate deficiency can increase your risk of having a:
- Preterm or low-birth-weight baby
- Baby with a serious birth defect of the spine or brain
Untreated vitamin B12 deficiency can also raise your risk of having a baby with neural tube defects.
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How Do Can You Get The Right Amount Of Iron
Before getting pregnant, women should get about 18 milligrams of iron per day. During pregnancy, the amount of iron you need jumps to 27 mg per day. Most pregnant women get this amount from eating foods that contain iron and taking prenatal vitamins that contain iron. Some women need to take iron supplements to prevent iron deficiency.
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Do I Need More Iron During Pregnancy
Yes. During pregnancy, your body needs more iron to support your growing baby. In fact, pregnant women need almost twice as much iron as women who are not pregnant do. Not getting enough iron during pregnancy raises your risk for birth or a low-birth-weight baby . Premature birth is the most common cause of infant death. Both premature birth and low birth weight raise your babys risk for health and developmental problems at birth and during childhood.
If youre pregnant, talk to your doctor about these steps:
- Getting 27 milligrams of iron every day. Take a prenatal vitamin with iron every day, or talk to your doctor about taking an iron supplement .
- Testing for iron-deficiency anemia
- Testing for iron-deficiency anemia four to six weeks after childbirth
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I Am A Vegetarian How Can I Make Sure I Get Enough Iron
You can help make sure you get enough iron by choosing foods that contain iron more often. Vegetarians need more iron from food than people who eat meat. This is because the body can absorb iron from meat better than from plant-based foods.
Vegetarian sources of iron include:
- Cereals and bread with added iron
- Lentils and beans
- Canned tomatoes
Talk to your doctor or nurse about whether you get enough iron. Most people get enough iron from food.
How Do I Take Care Of Myself When I Have Anemia During Pregnancy
The best way to care for yourself when you have anemia is to try and eat a healthy, iron-rich diet. Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Take a prenatal vitamin and/or iron supplement. Talk to your provider about the best supplement for you.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
You may be slightly anemic during pregnancy because blood volume increases by 20% to 30%. Keeping your diet rich in iron, vitamin C and B vitamins helps correct and prevent anemia. Taking a daily prenatal vitamin can help, too. Talk to your provider about your risk of anemia during pregnancy and any concerns you may have.
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How Does Anemia Affect The Baby During Pregnancy
Your unborn baby relies on you to get enough iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid. Anemia can affect the growth of your baby, especially during the first trimester.
If anemia goes untreated, your baby is at higher risk of having anemia after birth, which can lead to developmental problems. Also, anemia increases the risk of delivering your baby early and having a low-weight baby.
How Is Anemia Diagnosed
Anemia is usually discovered during a prenatal examination through a routine blood test for hemoglobin or hematocrit levels. Diagnostic procedures for anemia may include additional blood tests and other evaluation procedures.
- hemoglobin the part of blood that distributes oxygen from the lungs to tissues in the body.
- hematocrit the measurement of the percentage of red blood cells found in a specific volume of blood.
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Types Of Anemia During Pregnancy
Several types of anemia can develop during pregnancy. These include:
- Iron-deficiency anemia
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
Here’s why these types of anemia may develop:
Iron-deficiency anemia. This type of anemia occurs when the body doesn’t have enough iron to produce adequate amounts of hemoglobin. That’s a protein in red blood cells. It carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
In iron-deficiency anemia, the blood cannot carry enough oxygen to tissues throughout the body.
Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia in pregnancy.
Folate-deficiency anemia. Folate is the vitamin found naturally in certain foods like green leafy vegetables A type of B vitamin, the body needs folate to produce new cells, including healthy red blood cells.
During pregnancy, women need extra folate. But sometimes they don’t get enough from their diet. When that happens, the body can’t make enough normal red blood cells to transport oxygen to tissues throughout the body. Man made supplements of folate are called folic acid.
Folate deficiency can directly contribute to certain types of birth defects, such as neural tube abnormalities and low birth weight.
Blood loss during and after delivery can also cause anemia.
How Can I Treat Anemia At Home While Pregnant
The best way to treat the most common types of anemia is to make sure youre getting enough iron, B12 and folic acid. Take a prenatal vitamin every day. Talk to your healthcare provider about which prenatal vitamin they recommend.
Diet changes can help, too. Eat more foods that are high in iron like spinach, lean beef and turkey. Foods that are high in vitamins that help your body absorb iron are important as well, including citrus fruits, tomatoes and peppers.
How soon after treatment for anemia during pregnancy will I notice a change?
If you have iron-deficiency, B12-deficiency or folate-deficiency anemia, you should begin to feel better within a few days of taking a supplement. If you dont notice a change, talk to your provider.
What does untreated anemia do to the body?
Untreated anemia can get worse over time. Having too little oxygen in the blood can damage your organs. It also forces the heart to work harder, increasing the risk of:
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Folic Acid In Pregnancy
You should always take folic acid supplements in pregnancy, even if you do not have folate deficiency anaemia.
This is because folic acid tablets drastically cut the risk of having a baby with spina bifida or other problems affecting the babys spine and neural tube. You should take folic acid for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy as thats when the spine and neural tube are developing.
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Causes Of Anemia During Pregnancy
The cause of anemia truly comes down to how many red blood cells are being produced in the body and how healthy they are. A fall in hemoglobin levels during pregnancy is caused by a greater expansion of plasma volume compared with the increase in red cell volume. This disproportion between the rates of increase for, plasma and erythrocytes have the most distinction during the second trimester.
The following are ways red blood cells can be affected and lead to anemia:
- A lack of iron in the diet as a result of not eating enough iron-rich foods or the bodys inability to absorb the iron being consumed. Learn more about how to get iron naturally.
- Pregnancy itself because the iron being produced is needed for the womans body to increase her own blood volume. Without an iron supplement, there is not enough iron to feed the blood supply of the growing fetus.
- Heavy bleeding due to menstruation, an ulcer or polyp, or blood donation causes red blood cells to be destroyed faster than they can be replenished
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Why Do Pregnant Women Become Anaemic
Your body changes during pregnancy to look after your growing baby. Your body needs to make more blood when you are pregnant. The average woman will have about 5L of blood when not pregnant, compared to 7 to 8L of blood near the end of the pregnancy.
Making the extra blood cells requires plenty of iron, vitamin B12 and folate to make all the extra haemoglobin needed. Iron deficiency is the main cause of anaemia during pregnancy. You need 3 times as much iron when you are pregnant than when you are not, and your iron requirements increase throughout the pregnancy.
Unfortunately, iron is hard to absorb, which makes haemoglobin hard to make. So many women become anaemic during pregnancy unless they take iron supplements.
What Causes Anemia During Pregnancy
Pregnancy itself is a cause of anemia because of the increase in blood volume. Other causes of anemia during pregnancy include not consuming enough iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid.
Other causes of anemia that occur in nonpregnant people can also cause anemia during pregnancy:
- Unintended movement in the lower leg .
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Low Iron In Pregnancy: Spot The Symptoms Of Anemia
During pregnancy, a woman needs twice the amount of iron that a nonpregnant woman needs.
You need iron to keep yourself healthy and to also support your developing baby. Iron helps your red blood cells deliver oxygen to the baby and to your tissues. Without high iron stores or consuming enough iron during pregnancy, you could develop iron deficiency anemia.
Risks associated with anemia during pregnancy include:
- Premature birth
- Prenatal and postpartum depression
Maternal anemia can also place the mother at an increased risk of death during and after childbirth. Severe anemia can lead to circulatory decompensation, increased cardiac output, an increased risk of hemorrhage and decreased ability to tolerate blood loss, leading to circulatory shock and death. Infants born of iron-deficient mothers are at high risk for having iron deficiency at birth.
Getting enough iron is important for both you and your baby.
How Is Anemia During Pregnancy Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider uses the CBC to analyze:
- How many red blood cells you have, their size and shape .
- How much iron your body has stored.
- If you are low in vitamins B12 and B9.
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Maternal And Fetal Consequences Of Iron Deficiency Anemia
Pregnant women with IDA show various symptoms, including pallor, breathlessness, palpitations, hair loss, headaches, vertigo, leg cramps, cold intolerance, dizziness, and irritability. IDA can also lead to reduced thermoregulation, fatigue, poor concentration, reduced working capacity, decreased maternal breast milk production, and maternal iron stores depletion during the postpartum period., Furthermore, the risk of postpartum depression is significantly increased in comparison with pregnant women without iron deficiency fatigue and depression, due to anemia, may negatively influence the mother-child relationship.- In addition, pregnant women with IDA have an increased risk of developing complications such as increased susceptibility to infections, cardiovascular insufficiency, eclampsia, higher risk of hemorrhagic shock, or need of peripartum blood transfusion in cases of heavy blood loss. The risk of maternal mortality has a direct correlation with the severity of IDA.
How Is Anemia Treated In Pregnancy
Treatment for anemia during pregnancy depends on the severity. If you have:
- Mild to moderate anemia: Your provider will usually treat it with a daily prenatal vitamin or iron supplement. This gives your body healthy amounts of iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid.
- Severe anemia: You may need a blood transfusion.
Best Foods To Treat Anaemia
Most people should be able to get all the iron they need by eating a healthy, balanced diet. Eating well will help you either prevent anaemia or manage your symptoms if you have it.
Some food has more iron than others. For example, animal-based foods are particularly rich in iron and are most easily absorbed.
Infectious Causes Of Anemia
Infectious cause of anemia are more common in nonindustrialized countries. Anemia can be caused by infections such as parvovirus B-19, cytomegalovirus , HIV, hepatitis viruses, Epstein-Barr virus , malaria, babesiosis, bartonellosis, hookworm infestation, and Clostridium toxin. If the patientâs history suggests exposure to any of these infectious agents, appropriate laboratory studies should be performed.
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