Pregnancy is not an easy journey. It starts with nauseating mornings and ends with sleepless uncomfortable nights. A lot of health issues a woman faces during this phase of her life. Body aches, low blood pressure, low hemoglobin or iron deficiency, gestational diabetes, etc.
Iron deficiency during pregnancy is the major cause behind low Hemoglobin. And this is a very alarming situation in this condition. It can harm your unborn baby and may cause complications during childbirth. So it is very important to keep an eye on the iron or hemoglobin levels of your blood during pregnancy.
What is Hemoglobin?
It’s a red-pigmented protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your body’s organs and transports carbon dioxide from your body tissues/organs back to the lungs. Iron is the major constituent of the structure of hemoglobin.
Low levels of hemoglobin cause a condition known as anemia. Iron deficiency is one of the causes behind decreasing the levels of hemoglobin.
How anemia is produced during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, your body produces more blood to support the development and growth of your baby. If you are deficient with iron and some other important nutrients, you become unable to produce enough red blood cells to make this extra blood. In this situation, you become anemic.
It is normal to have mild symptoms of anemia during pregnancy. But having a very amount of hemoglobin is an upsetting situation.
Different types of anemia during pregnancy;
Several types of anemia can develop during pregnancy. These include:
- Iron-deficiency anemia
- Folate-deficiency anemia
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
Here we will focus on iron deficiency anemia.
How you become iron deficient during pregnancy?
If you are not taking a proper diet containing iron or iron is not absorbing through your gut, it leads to iron deficiency during pregnancy.
Tips to cope with iron deficiency during pregnancy:
According to the UK guidelines on the management of iron deficiency, Approximately 15% of dietary iron is absorbed. Physiological iron requirements are 3 times higher in pregnancy than they are in menstruating women (Tapiero et al, 2001) with increasing demand as pregnancy advances.
So here are some important tips to cope with iron deficiency during the pregnancy
Eat red meat:
Red meat is the best source of haem iron from hemoglobin and myoglobin present in that meat. Haem iron is absorbed 2-3 folds more rapidly than non-haem iron. So consuming red meat is the best way to increase iron levels.
Eat poultry or fish:
Poultry and fish are also good sources of haem iron.
Eat leafy vegetables:
Leafy vegetables like spinach are a rich source of iron and folates.
Consume iron-enriched beans:
Chickpeas and black-eyed peas have the highest iron content. White, lima, red kidney, soybeans, and navy beans are different types of beans that are rich in iron.
Eat fruits having vitamin C:
Vitamin C helps iron to be absorbed through your body. That’s why it is important to take fruits like citrus fruits, guava, that are rich in vitamin C so that iron can be easily absorbed in your body.
Oral iron supplements:
Apart from the dietary intake of iron. Oral supplements are also important to increase your iron levels.
If iron is not properly absorbed through your gut or your dietary intake of iron is not helping to improve your iron level, your doctor advises you to take iron in injectable form. This is the fastest way to cope with iron deficiency. Usually, iron deficiency can be managed with dietary changes during pregnancy, but sometimes supplements are also required.
If left untreated, iron deficiency can cause premature birth of baby, having low weight baby, an anemic baby, a child with developmental delays, postpartum depression, low milk production during lactation, etc. That’s why it is very important to manage anemia during pregnancy to avoid these health problems.
Blood tests during pregnancy are very important. Do not ignore them because they are not important for you but also for your baby. And getting expert advice from your OBGYN is also essential throughout the pregnancy period. You can consult the best health specialists of your city through Marham- which also provides an online consultation facility with the doctors.