Anemia is common during pregnancy for exactly the reason that anemia during pregnancy can be a serious problem – as the baby grows, the increased blood-flow that’s needed to carry oxygen around a woman’s body, as well as her baby’s, creates a much greater need for the red blood cells produced by eating iron-rich foods.
Anemia during pregnancy can have serious side effects, like an increased likelihood of low birth weight or premature birth, so it’s important to catch it as soon as possible. Doctors test and watch out for anemia at prenatal health appointments, but there are also signs you can watch out for on your own.
- Increased sense of fatigue
- Cold hands and feet
- Pale skin
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
If you have darker skin, it might be difficult to detect paleness, and it may only be noticed in the eye and mouth lining.
What happens if I’m diagnosed with anemia
If you’re diagnosed with anemia, your healthcare provider may prescribe an iron supplement, as well as recommend that you try to get more iron in your diet. He or she may also recommend that you take certain precautions, as those who are anemic are more likely to suffer from dizziness and fatigue, which could contribute to falling.
How to avoid anemia
Generally, anemia can be avoided just by getting around 18 milligrams of iron a day before pregnancy, and 27 milligrams a day during, either through food sources or through supplements. Poultry, beans, eggs, red meats, and leafy greens are all foods that are high in iron.
Eating foods that are high in Vitamin C around the same time can help the body to more easily absorb iron. Calcium, on the other hand, can block the absorption of iron.
In rare cases, anemia can be caused by an underlying health condition, like thalassemia or sickle cell anemia. If you suspect that you have anemia, it’s a good idea to call your healthcare provider at once to help come up with a plan of management.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy: Prevention tips.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Feb 2017. Web.
- “Anemia and Pregnancy.” Hematology. American Society of Hematology, 2017. Web.
- “Anemia.” MarchofDimes. March of Dimes Foundation, Dec 2013. Web.