When health is in place, our bodies run like small, well-oiled factories. Everything is in its place and organs all do their jobs efficiently. However, for a pregnant woman, that factory has to work a lot harder and if we don’t supply it with the right tools – as in sustenance – then the wheels will start to fall off!
This applies to many aspects of pregnancy, including keeping your iron count up so as not to become anaemic. Anaemia during pregnancy is something that must be avoided at all costs as it can be equally dangerous to both the developing baby and to mom.
Anaemia and its effect during pregnancy
Our red blood cells carry oxygen from our lungs throughout our bodies and carries carbon dioxide back to the lungs where it is exchanged for more oxygen. Iron is contained in the red blood cells. Anaemia is a lack of or decrease in our red blood cells, therefore iron is lost. If you are pregnant your body will need a substantially larger amount of iron than someone who is not pregnant in order to prevent anaemia from occurring.
Iron is used in the production of haemoglobin in your blood. When you are low in iron and anaemia has set in you will feel more tired than you usually would during pregnancy and you can become quite weak. You may have difficulty concentrating, as well as suffering from shortness of breath. Dizziness and severe headaches can also occur. Severe loss of iron can result in a still birth, and can also put your own life at risk.
Many reasons could contribute to anaemia developing during pregnancy. It could be that you are prone to the condition and that you are losing iron to your developing baby, but it’s often because your diet may have already been compromised by a low iron intake, or even that your diet lacks folic acid.
But whatever the reason, you need to step up your iron intake so you can enjoy a healthy pregnancy and your developing baby can have a healthy, fighting chance at life when he’s born.
Simple ways to manage anaemia during pregnancy
If you know you are going to start trying for a little one in the near future, shape up with your diet! Start eating nutritiously, start exercising and ensure that your iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid (vital to reduce the risk of having a child with spina bifida) intake is covered.
Speak to your doctor about your plans and ask him for an iron supplement as well as a folic acid supplement.
A nutritious diet
And then it’s time to look to your diet. Supplements alone are no good so enhance these by choosing foods that are rich in folic acid. These include kidney and lima beans, soy beans, lentils muesli, asparagus, beef, broccoli and brussel sprouts.
Including meat in your diet is also vital as it has a swiftly absorbed form of iron called heme. Choose beef, lamb, veal, turkey, poultry, or pork in particular. Your fruit and veggie grocery list should include tomatoes, apricots, turnips, spinach, dark green leafy vegetables and broccoli.
It is, however, important to note that when eating foods rich in iron you need to include foods rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C assists the human body to absorb iron more efficiently and can be found abundantly in raw vegetables, oranges, lime, potatoes (with the skin on) and lemon.
Another extremely rich source of iron is molasses – and you only need one tablespoon of it a day! And dried fruits such as raisins, figs and apricots are always tremendously good for you.
Of course your entire diet should be a balanced and nutritious one and start before conception.