Iron During Pregnancy

Iron is an essential mineral needed by the body to help make red blood cells to transport oxygen around the body. During pregnancy, you need to ensure you are getting enough iron for your baby’s needs as well as your own. Your iron intake becomes increasingly important after week 20 of the pregnancy.

Iron is stored in the body, but by week 20 these stores will be running low. From week 20 onwards, your baby requires more iron than before. If you aren’t getting enough iron during the second half of the pregnancy, you may find yourself lacking in energy.

Eating enough iron during pregnancy

It is possible to get all of the iron you need during pregnancy through your diet. Be sure to eat lots of iron-rich foods every day as part of a healthy balanced diet. Green leafy vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, seeds, pulses and lean meat are all foods naturally high in iron. Breakfast cereals fortified with iron, black molasses, seaweeds, parsley and watercress are also good sources of dietary iron. Cooking food in ironware also adds a small amount of iron into your diet.

Liver is a good source of iron, but should not be consumed during pregnancy. Liver is rich in vitamin A which can harm the baby if consumed in large quantities during pregnancy, so pregnant women are advised to avoid liver.

Consuming vitamin C with iron aids iron absorption. Try to have a glass of orange juice, or eat an orange, with your iron-rich lunch. If you’re taking iron supplements, take them with a glass of orange juice to help your body get the most out of them.

Iron supplements during pregnancy

In the UK, women are not advised to routinely take iron supplements during pregnancy because of the risk of side effects. Possible side effects include constipation, diarrhoea and nausea. If you are suffering from low iron levels or anaemia, however, your healthcare provider may recommend that you take supplements for the remainder of the pregnancy.

In the US, it is more common for pregnant women to take iron supplements during the second half of pregnancy, and many prenatal vitamins contain added iron. Speak to your healthcare provider about the possible need for iron supplements during pregnancy.

Anaemia during pregnancy

Anaemia is a common complaint during pregnancy. You require extra iron during pregnancy to ensure your baby is getting enough oxygen and nutrients in the womb. You have an increased risk of developing anaemia during pregnancy if you suffer from severe morning sickness, are carrying multiple pregnancies or have recently had a baby. Symptoms of anaemia include feeling tired and weak, as well as dizziness, headaches and heart palpitations. Contact your healthcare provider if you think you may be suffering from anaemia.

Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.

Iron Deficiency Anaemia During Pregnancy

Iron deficiency anaemia occurs when the body does not have enough iron, and this leads to a decrease in the number of red blood cells in the body. There are other forms of anaemia, but iron deficiency anaemia is the most common.

Anaemia during pregnancy
Iron is vital for delivering oxygen and nutrients to your developing baby. Pregnant women need to consume 14.8mg of iron a day, to make sure the baby is getting enough nutrients. Anaemia is a common condition during pregnancy.

You are more likely to develop anaemia during pregnancy if you:

  • suffered from severe morning sickness
  • are pregnant with multiples
  • have recently had a baby
  • have previously suffered from anaemia during pregnancy

Symptoms of anaemia
The most common symptoms of anaemia include:

  • tiredness
  • lethargy
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • a pale complexion
  • heart palpitations

Treatment for anaemia
Anaemia is most common during the second half of the pregnancy, when the iron stores in the body are running low. Your iron levels will be checked during one of your routine blood tests. If the tests reveal that you are suffering from anaemia or low iron levels, you will be offered an iron supplement to take.

During pregnancy, you have an increased risk of suffering from constipation, so you won’t be pleased to hear that this is a common side effect of iron supplements. Try drinking prune juice, eating a high-fibre breakfast cereal, and drinking plenty of water throughout the day, to reduce your chance of suffering from constipation.

Most women find the anaemia disappears after taking the iron supplements, however a small percentage of women may still suffer from low iron levels. These women are offered iron injections to treat the anaemia.

How to avoid anaemia during pregnancy
The key to avoiding anaemia, is to make sure you eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in iron. You should make sure you eat a variety of the following iron-rich foods:

  • green leafy vegetables – spinach, watercress and kale are all high in dietary iron
  • nuts and seeds – a handful of mixed nuts and seeds each day will increase your iron intake
  • dried fruit – snacking on dried fruit throughout the day can increase your iron intake
  • pulses – baked beans, and other beans, are high in iron
  • lean meats – choosing lean meat can increase your iron levels
  • fortified foods – soya milk and breakfast cereals are often fortified with iron and other minerals
  • molasses – use this during baking to add iron to your diet

Try drinking a glass of orange juice alongside iron-rich foods. Orange juice makes it easier for your body to absorb iron from food. You should try to avoid consuming dairy products and caffeine with meals, as these foods can actually inhibit iron absorption.

How are you making sure you eat enough iron-rich foods during pregnancy?

Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice.  All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.