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Paleness when pregnant

If you look in the mirror and see that your natural blush has faded, it probably isn’t the first sign that you don’t feel your best. You can look extra pale when you’re pregnant as a result of the rollercoaster of symptoms you may be experiencing, like morning sickness and iron deficiency.

What causes it?

One of the most common causes of paleness is anemia, a condition in which your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to transport and circulate oxygen. You are particularly susceptible during pregnancy since your blood flow has increased and you need extra iron and folate to produce enough healthy red blood cells. Paleness could also be a result of general fatigue, inadequate sleep, or vomiting, all common symptoms of pregnancy.


Pale skin might mean you’re feeling faint, so make sure to get plenty of rest and eat and drink well. Though it may be difficult due to fatigue, getting some light exercise can also really help improve your circulation. Don’t forget to stick to your prenatal vitamin regimen to get an adequate amount of iron and folic acid (the synthetic form of folate); your healthcare provider might recommend additional supplements if your symptoms worsen. To treat morning sickness, make sure you’re eating small meals and try to incorporate ginger into your diet to soothe your stomach.

Women who notice other symptoms of anemia, like shortness of breath, exhaustion, dizziness, or lightheadedness should probably call their healthcare providers, as anemia is not something to play around with during pregnancy, and could put both you and Baby at risk.

Reviewed by Dr. Jamie Lo
Read more
  • F Hytten. “Blood volume changes in normal pregnancy.” Clinics in Haemotology. 14(3):601-12. Web. Oct-85.
  • AK Sfakianaki. “Prenatal vitamins: A review of the literature on benefits and risks of various nutrient supplements.” Formulary Journal. ModernMedicine Network. Web. 1/31/2013.
  • E Ernst, MH Pittler. “Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials.” British Journal of Anaesthesia. 84(3):367-71. Web. Mar-00.
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 95: anemia in pregnancy.” Obstet Gynecol. 112(1):201-7. Web. 7/8/2015.
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