Iron Deficiency in Pregnancy

Updated: Jan 13

More than 20% of pregnant women in Europe have anaemia during pregnancy


One of the most common reasons for developing anaemia is not having enough iron. Iron is needed to make haemoglobin (Hb), which is found in the blood & traps oxygen from the lungs & brings it around the body.

If there is not enough iron in the body the amount of Hb also drops & less oxygen is carried around the body, leading to: tiredness, breathlessness, weakness, dizziness

Causes:

-Diet

-Gut may not be able to absorb enough from food

-Iron requirements may be so high that you can’t get enough from your diet alone

-Blood loss (ie. Heavy periods) or you have a medical condition

.

Risk Factors:

-Low iron stores before pregnancy

-Pre-existing blood condition

-Inflammatory disorders (ie IBS, coeliac disease) & surgery to the gut

-Higher demands for iron stores (ie, twins, triplets)

-Giving birth to a previous child less than a year before

Diagnosis:

-Screening for anaemia happens at your booking visit. If you are symptomatic or at risk, you will be tested more frequently.


Increased Risk of:

-Low birth weight baby & premature birth

-Significant blood loss at birth…

-Subsequently leading to a blood transfusion


Affects:

- Muscle function

- Ability to exercise (like climbing stairs!)

- Gut function


Postnatally:

- Increased fatigue

- Decrease in milk production postnatally

- Associated with postnatal depression


Treatment:

You will be asked to take Iron tablets for several weeks. Another blood test to check your iron levels will be done to see if this has been effective. Some iron tablets are combined with Vitamin C as it helps the absorption of iron in the body. If not, take the tablet with a glass of OJ an hour before a meal (& NOT a cup of tea/coffee as these hinder iron absorption in the body)


*As always, follow the instructions of your doctor/pharmacist. If you don’t feel well after taking tablets, talk to your doctor/pharmacist. They may be able to offer an alternative.


Don’t forget:

A balanced diet is so important to making sure you get enough iron. Meat, fish, poultry, lentils, fortified cereals & veggies are great sources of Iron! Vit. C helps the body to absorb iron too!


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