Why Am I More Likely To Become Anemic During Pregnancy?
You’re more likely to become anemic during pregnancy because, during the second and third trimester, your iron needs increase significantly, from 18 mg to 27 mg per day. You need more iron because you have more blood circulating in your arteries and iron is essential to produce hemoglobin – the protein that carries oxygen around your body.
Iron deficiency means that your internal organs are not receiving enough oxygen to work properly. Your baby also needs iron to develop normally. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for most women to start pregnancy with low iron stores and the increased strain during pregnancy is enough to make them anemic. Some doctors recommend taking iron supplements as preventative, while others prefer to wait and see if it’s needed.
Do I need to be tested for anemia?
All pregnant women are tested for anemia at various points during pregnancy, as you may not be anemic at the beginning but develop this condition later. You’re tested for the percentage of blood cells and the amount of hemoglobin in your blood and the results will indicate whether you’re anemic.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms to look out for include tiredness and dizziness, but these are common during pregnancy anyway and not necessarily associated with anemia. More specific symptoms include pale fingernails, lips, and underside your eyes, and even heart palpitations, shortness of breath, headache and irritability. However, if you have a mild case of this condition, you may not experience any specific symptoms at all.
How is this condition treated?
Most likely, your doctor will prescribe iron supplements if you’ve been diagnosed with anemia. The dose will probably be around 60 to 120 mg per day, but it can be more in extreme cases. It’s best to take these supplements with water or orange juice, but not with milk, as calcium interferes with iron absorption. It may take a few months to completely treat your anemia, but should start seeing results within a few days.
Most commonly, iron supplements lead to constipation, worsening what you may already be experiencing. Make sure you chose a diet with fiber-rich foods. Less likely, it may cause heartburn, abdominal discomfort, nausea and vomiting. Try different times of the day to take your supplement to see what works best for you.
Does anemia affect my baby?
Unless you’re suffering from an extreme case of iron deficiency, your baby will receive all the nutrients it needs, as your body fulfills your baby’s needs first and then yours. However, this condition is associated with a higher risk of preterm labor and low birth weight babies.
How do I prevent anemia?
Eating a balanced diet, with plenty of iron-rich foods, including red meat, beans, lentils, raisins and leafy green vegetables, to name just a few. Choosing foods rich in vitamin C also help your body absorb more iron.