During pregnancy, your body needs a variety of nutrients in additional amounts to support the nutritional needs of you and your baby. If nutrients are not provided adequately, the body becomes deficient. e.g. low hemoglobin during pregnancy, known as anemia, is common and is caused by iron deficiency.
Iron plays an important role in the production of blood and carrying oxygen to the tissues. Your body needs double the amount of iron during pregnancy to produce extra blood for you and your baby. Iron is also stored by the baby to keep it healthy after birth and to prevent anemia. Since hemoglobin is directly linked to iron levels, reduced iron levels can cause anemia. Loss of blood due to an ulcer or other reasons can also cause anemia.
Signs of anemia can be mild in the beginning, but could worsen later. It is important to notice them and treat appropriately. Some common signs of anemia are:
Iron deficiency can be easily reversed by including iron-rich food and iron supplements in your diet. In rare cases of severe anemia, more aggressive treatment like blood transfusions may be required.
The best way to tackle anemia in pregnancy is by prevention. The recommended dietary intake of iron for pregnant women in India is about 35 mg per day. This can be achieved by including iron-rich foods in diet like green leafy vegetables, eggs, red meat, poultry, nuts, seeds, beans, etc. Vitamin C helps with better absorption of iron and can be obtained from citrus fruits, berries, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc.
It is difficult to get the necessary amount of iron through diet alone, hence iron supplements are widely recommended by doctors. Iron supplements should be a part of your prenatal vitamins and should not be missed. Regular checks of hemoglobin levels can also be done to prevent anemia and complications of anemia during pregnancy.