Anemia during pregnancy

Anemia during pregnancy occurs regularly. This is mainly because pregnant women have more blood in their bodies. In addition, there is a higher iron requirement. Your baby needs iron to grow and develop. Because of this increased iron requirement, there is a quicker iron deficiency and that causes anemia. Severe anemia can affect your baby. For that reason your blood is regularly checked during the appointments at the midwife. Read more about anemia here and how you can prevent or treat this.

What is anemia?

Anemia is also called anemia. If you have anemia during pregnancy, there are too few red blood cells present in the blood. These red blood cells are quite important because they contain hemoglobin (Hb). Hemoglobin is a protein that transports oxygen from the lungs to body cells. This is done through the blood.

When you are examined for anemia, the hemoglobin level in your blood is checked. During pregnancy it is normal that it is somewhat lower than usual. This is because you have more blood in your body that contains more fluid (plasma) than red blood cells. Only when the hemoglobin level falls below 6 will action be taken.

Controls for anemia

During your first visit to the midwife, your hemoglobin level is immediately measured. By the time you are 30 weeks pregnant, this is measured again. Chances are that the content is lower. If it remains around 6.3 mmol / l, then nothing is wrong. If you have an increased risk of anemia, a test will also be carried out around the 20th week of your pregnancy.

Symptoms of anemia

If you suffer from the symptoms below, there may be anemia during pregnancy:

  • Fatigue.
  • Feel weak.
  • With effort, short of breath.
  • The feeling that you will faint.
  • Palpitations.
  • Sweating, headache, ringing in the ears.
  • Pale skin (when Hb value has fallen sharply).

If you notice these symptoms, discuss them with your midwife. If you have these symptoms early in pregnancy, they can also be caused by other factors such as pregnancy hormones.

Causes of anemia during pregnancy

Usually the cause of anemia is an iron deficiency, but it can also be caused by a folic acid deficiency. In rare cases it is caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency (mainly with vegetarians). Causes anemia through iron:

  • Women have a higher iron requirement during pregnancy. Especially women who are pregnant with a multiple birth or women who are pregnant within a year of the next child.
  • Major iron deficiency in food. This is especially common in people who do not eat varied or vegetarians.
  • The absorption of iron in the intestine can be disrupted by the use of certain anti-acid agents.

Iron deficiency pregnancy effects baby

When you temporarily have a mild form of anemia, it is not harmful for your baby. But do you have a pretty iron deficiency and if this is not treated then there can be major consequences. Namely:

  • Increased chance of premature birth.
  • Increased chance of a low birth weight.
  • The risk of the baby being born dead also seems to be slightly higher with anemia.
  • Pregnant women with anemia are more susceptible to diseases and infections.

Iron-rich food

Fortunately, you can significantly reduce the risk of anemia during pregnancy by eating healthy and varied food. When there is anemia, the midwife or doctor will first advise you to solve the iron deficiency with iron-rich food. This diet consists of:

  1. Grain products: wholemeal bread, rye bread, muesli, wholemeal rusks and crackers, wholegrain pasta, unpolished rice, wholemeal couscous and other wholemeal products.
  2. Legumes: such as kidney beans, white beans, broad beans, lentils, soybeans.
  3. Potatoes (all kinds).
  4. Vegetables: especially spinach, broccoli, endive, zucchini, peas, purslane, grape leaf, tomato paste, turnip greens, salsify.
  5. Meat and fish (all types): especially cod, herring, sardines.
  6. Eggs.
  7. Dried fruit: especially figs and apricots.
  8. Other: nuts, apple syrup, tomato juice.

Other ways to prevent anemia

  • Swallow daily folic acid tablets of 400 micrograms (up to and including the 10th week of your pregnancy).
  • Make sure you get some vitamin C before a meal, this promotes the absorption of iron. Vitamin C is in oranges, orange juice, kiwi fruit, pineapple (also the juice), grapefruit, peppers and other vegetables and fruit.
  • Do not eat milk products for a meal that can inhibit the absorption of iron.
  • Tea and coffee also inhibit the absorption of iron.
  • You may be able to take vitamin B complexes, but an iron deficiency is almost never caused by too little vitamin B12 (except vegetarians).

Treatment anemia

If you still have anemia during pregnancy despite iron-rich diet, iron tablets are prescribed. Usually the pills show no side effects, but in some cases you may suffer from constipation, stomach problems or black stools. You can remedy these symptoms by eating high-fiber foods, drinking a lot of water (at least 1.5 per day) and exercising enough exercise.

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