Iron-deficiency anaemia

Iron is important for many of your body’s functions, but during pregnancy, iron deficiency can be harmful to you and your baby. Find out more about this condition and how you can raise your body’s iron reserves.

Iron-deficiency anaemia is a type of blood disorder. It is the result of a lack of iron in your body. Pregnancy increases the likelihood of becoming anaemic, but here are some ways to reduce your risks of developing the disorder.

What is iron-deficiency anaemia?

The red blood cells in your body contain haemoglobin, which is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout your body. Iron helps to create healthy red blood cells that keep your haemoglobin at the right level. A lack of iron could mean that you are anaemic.

How do you know if you have iron-deficiency anaemia?

Tiredness is the most common symptom you notice. And as it’s also common to feel tired during pregnancy, many women don’t realize that a lack of iron is making them feel more tired than normal. Headaches, poor concentration, dizziness or a pale face, lips and nails are also symptoms you may experience if you are anaemic.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, be sure to visit your doctor for advice and treatment if necessary.

How much iron should you be eating?

In pregnancy, your red blood cells increase. Also, your body is looking after the placenta and a growing baby. Therefore, the recommended intake of iron during pregnancy increases to 27 mg per day.

What do I have to eat to get my 27 mg of iron?

  • 1 cup iron-fortified ready-to-eat cereal is 24 mg.
  • 85 grams of lean beef, like tenderloin, is 3.0 mg.
  • 1 cup chickpeas is 4.8 mg.
  • 1/2 cup spinach, boiled: 3.2 mg.
  • 1 cup of prune juice is 3.0 mg.
  • One slice whole wheat or enriched white bread is 0.9 mg.
  • ½ cup cooked lentils is 3.3 mg.

What can I do to prevent Iron-deficiency anaemia during pregnancy?

Getting a variety of healthy iron-rich foods is the best way to prevent iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy. In addition, your doctor will prescribe prenatal vitamins to ensure that you have enough iron and folic acid. This will provide both you and your baby with the right amount of vitamins each day.

7 foods that help to increase your iron intake in pregnancy

  1. Red meat, and poultry.
  2. Seeds and nuts.
  3. Beans and lentils.
  4. Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli.
  5. Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots.
  6. Iron-fortified cereals, breads and pastas.
  7. Peas.

5 foods that help to enhance iron absorption

Importantly, foods rich in vitamin C can help your body absorb iron. These foods should be consumed at the same time as the iron-rich foods. They include:

  1. Citrus fruits and juices such as orange, lemon, lime, mandarin and grapefruits.
  2. Strawberries.
  3. Broccoli.
  4. Kiwis.
  5. Peppers.

4 foods and drinks that do not help absorb iron

Avoid consuming too many foods or drinks that prevent your body from absorbing iron properly, such as:

  1. Dairy products.
  2. Soy products.
  3. Coffee.
  4. Tea.

If you do consume these foods or drinks, it may be best to have them an hour before or two hours after an iron-rich meal.

Does anaemia affect pregnancy?

Mild anaemia that is treated early shouldn’t pose a problem during your pregnancy. It shouldn’t affect your baby, either. However, if you are feeling unusually tired or exhausted, talk to your doctor as you might need iron supplements.

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