Anemia is very common during pregnancy due to the increased blood flow in a woman’s body. Your doctor will test your blood during your first prenatal visit to ensure that you aren’t anemic at the beginning of your pregnancy. When a woman is pregnant, her body will produce up to 50 percent more blood than before pregnancy. Without iron in your blood, your body is unable to produce enough hemoglobin. Many women have plenty of iron stored up in their body; however, the demands of pregnancy increase your need for additional iron during your second and third trimester and starts depleting your iron reserves rapidly. Once all of the iron is depleted from your body you will become anemic.
Note: I am not a doctor, nurse, or health care provider. This post is for informational purposes only and never should replace getting medical treatment for you and your unborn baby.
Don’t Panic If Your Doctor Tells You That You Are Anemic During Your Pregnancy
If you have had severe morning sickness during the first trimester, back to back pregnancies, heavy menstrual periods before pregnancy, having multiples, can’t stomach your prenatal vitamins that contain iron, or don’t eat a diet that is rich in iron your chances of becoming anemic during pregnancy significantly increase. To help prevent iron deficiency during your pregnancy, try to increase your daily iron intake and if possible take your prenatal vitamins or iron supplements as directed by your doctor, midwife, or health care provider. Your doctor, midwife, or health care professional generally draws your blood towards the end of your second and the beginning of your third trimester to determine if your showing any signs of anemia. They generally see a decrease in the amount of hemoglobin in the plasma during this blood draw but they are looking for a significant decrease or a low hemoglobin count.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Anemia?
Some women don’t show any signs or symptoms that they are anemic while others do. Watch for these signs and symptoms:
- feeling more tired than usual
- feeling weak
- feel dizzy
- look paler on your fingernails, on the underside of your eyelids, and lips
- rapid heartbeat
- heart palpitations
- shortness of breath
- difficulty concentrating
- begin craving ice or non-food substances
Make sure that if you have any of the signs or symptoms listed above that you mention them to your health care provider immediately. Generally when someone has severe anemia they will begin to crave weird things such as ice, dirt, clay, paper, paint, starch, animal feces, glass, and any other weird items. Don’t give in to these cravings, these cravings can harm you and your baby.
Treating Iron-Deficiency Anemia Should Be Taken Seriously
It is important that you take any iron supplements or other treatments that your doctor or health care provider prescribes you to treat anemia. Also, increase the amount of iron rich foods in your diet. These foods include: red meat, poultry, shellfish, beans, lentils, tofu, raisins, dates, prunes, potatoes (you have to leave the skin on them), leafy green vegetables, and many other choices . Your baby iron needs will be taken from any amount of iron that your are getting through your diet, but it leaves you vulnerable to anemia related complications during delivery. However, anemia that is left untreated will increase your baby’s chances of anemia during their first year. Mother’s who have anemia are also at risk for having preterm labor, low birth weight, increase risk for being still born or infant death, lowers your immune system leaving your vulnerable for infections, increase blood loss during birth, and possibly linked to postpartum depression.