Pregnancy anemia refers to iron-deficiency in the body during pregnancy.
Iron is a mineral that is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that bring oxygen to other cells.
During pregnancy, the blood levels in your body increases until the levels are approximately 50 percent more than normal levels.
So, more iron is needed to produce more hemoglobin for the increased blood levels.
An extra iron is also required for your developing baby and placenta.
Iron is more essential to meet the increased requirements of your body during the second and third trimesters.
If you start pregnancy without enough iron storage then by reaching second or third trimester you cannot have sufficient iron to produce the required amount of hemoglobin. You will become anemic and the condition results in pregnancy anemia.
However, don’t worry about your baby because the baby gets required amount of iron from iron reserves of your body. Remember that lack of iron in you starts long before than your baby.
Pregnancy anemia is so common that it affects 50% of all pregnant women. So, it is very important to get tested for anemia at early stages of pregnancy.
It is also good to have tests regularly throughout your pregnancy to detect pregnancy anemia even if you are not anemic at early stages because your chances of developing anemia is more as pregnancy progresses.
Pregnancy anemia can develop when your diet contains insufficient iron, the iron absorption by your body is very poor, unable to eat properly due to nausea or vomiting, or pre-pregnancy menstrual period is more.
It also develops when you have two pregnancies comparatively very close or a multiple pregnancy.
When you develop anemia during pregnancy, you feel fatigue, breathlessness dizziness (faint) trouble concentrating and palpitations (irregular heartbeats). Your skin also becomes pale.
When you experience any of these feeling during pregnancy, right away consult your health care provider. The doctors perform tests to detect pregnancy anemia. The pregnancy anemia can be detected through blood tests.
In general, the doctor performs blood test two times during your pregnancy: at first prenatal visit and then again in your late second trimester or early third trimester.
However, hematocrit and hemoglobin tests are also recommended to determine the percentage of red blood cells in plasma and the hemoglobin grams in the blood.
If your test results indicates pregnancy anemia, your doctor may prescribe an iron supplement of 60-120 mg per day. You can reduce the pregnancy anemia by including the foods that are rich in iron in your pregnancy diet.
The foods that are rich in iron are meat, seafoods, baked potato with skin, blackstrap molasses, oatmeal, whole grains, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, iron-fortified cereals, breads and pastas, dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, kale) and dried fruits such as prunes, raisins, apricots, figs, dates.
It is important to increase your body’s iron absorption to avoid pregnancy anemia. Remember that vitamin C helps your body absorb iron whereas calcium interferes in absorbing iron by your body.