Iron deficiency and anaemia during pregnancy
It is very common for women who have never previously suffered from anaemia or iron deficiency to develop it during pregnancy. But what is it exactly, and what does it mean for you and your baby?
What is anaemia?
Anaemia is when you have a deficiency of blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood, which carries oxygen around the body – and to your baby.
During pregnancy, your body is producing more blood to support your new houseguest, but if you’re not getting enough iron, B12 and folate your body may not be able to produce enough red blood cells for this additional blood – which then leaves you feeling even more tired and weak than you already did.
How do I know if I’m anaemic?
It is very common for pregnant women to experience mild anaemia, however, if you are feeling tired as well as dizzy, weak and out of breath, as well as particularly irritable it could be severe anaemia.
Your doctor or midwife will check your blood when you first fall pregnant and again later in the pregnancy as you may not have it at the beginning but as your baby grows and the blood required increases, you may find yourself suffering from it.
How do you treat anaemia during pregnancy?
Anaemia is common and very treatable, but without proper treatment, it can lead to serious complications such as preterm labour and requiring a blood transfusion, so you should always speak with your doctor or midwife about whether you need to go on a supplement or make changes to your diet.
There are a number of things you can do to ensure you are getting the right nutrients including iron, B12 and folate:
- Eat a healthy balanced diet which includes lean red meat (or lentils, tofu, beans for vegetarians), spinach, broccoli, eggs, fish, wholegrain breads and cereals, oats, dairy.
- Avoid eating dairy or caffeinated drinks such as tea or coffee with or close to meals as these hinder the absorption of iron.
- Eat foods containing vitamin c to help aid iron absorption
- Remember to take your pregnancy multivitamins
If you are still not getting enough iron your doctor or midwife may recommend going on an iron supplement and or a B12 supplement as well as your regular pregnancy supplement.
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