Can Low Iron Cause Problems in Pregnancy?

Iron deficiency anaemia is a blood condition that develops when your body isn’t holding enough red blood cells. Your red blood cells contain haemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen around your body and to your baby. 

What Is Anaemia?

During pregnancy, your body is making a lot of changes to look after both you and baby. In order to support the growth of your baby your body will produce more blood. Your body needs iron and other nutrients in order to produce the amount of red blood cells it would require in order to produce more blood. Anaemia can you leave you feeling weak, tired and having no energy. There are three types if anaemia you can experience during pregnancy:

  • Iron-deficiency anaemia, 
  • Folate-deficiency anaemia and 
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency. 

Symptoms of Anaemia During Pregnancy?

The signs to look out for when thinking you could be experiencing anaemia are:

  • Having trouble concentrating, 
  • Dizziness. 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired and/or weak, 
  • Pale, skin, lips and nails,
  • Rapid heartbeat. 

You may notice some of the symptoms can also be known in pregnancy in general so ensure you get your routine blood tests to double check for anaemia during your pregnancy.

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Are There Any Risks During Pregnancy with Anaemia?

If iron-deficiency anaemia is severe during pregnancy or left untreated your risk of having the following, can be increased:

  • A blood transfusion (if significant amounts of blood is lost during delivery),
  • A baby with anaemia, 
  • A child with developmental delays, 
  • A preterm or low-birth-weight baby, 
  • Postpartum depression. 

You mustn't allow yourself to feel guilty as this is a very common problem in many women and this is somewhat out of your control. Sometimes your body can struggle taking in iron or other vitamins. 

If you leave folate-deficiency or B12 deficiency untreated your chances of having the following are also increased:

  • Preterm or low-birth-weight baby, 
  • Baby with a serious birth defect of the spine or brain. 

Can You Treat Anaemia?

If you are found to have anaemia you doctor will recommend you to take a supplement, as well as your prenatal vitamins. You may be asked to try and incorporate more foods that are high in the nutrients you're lacking in your body. After taking these supplements you will be asked to return for another blood test to check your hemoglobin and hematocrit levels are improving to a normal level.

For B12 deficiency you will be advised to eat more animal foods and other foods, such as:

  • Beef, liver and chicken,
  • Fortified breakfast cereal and
  • Milk.

For iron deficiency you will be asked to eat more foods such as:

  • Spinach or green vegetables, 
  • Nuts and seeds, 
  • Grains and 
  • Dried fruit. 

For folate deficiency you will be asked to eat more foods such as:

  • Asparagus, 
  • Broccoli, 
  • Leafy greens and 
  • Citrus fruits.

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