Anemia and Pregnancy: What Expecting Moms Should Know
April 1, 2021During pregnancy, your body produces extra blood to help support the growth of your baby. To make more blood requires greater amounts of iron and vitamins that are used to make hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to other cells in your body. If your blood has too few red blood cells, it is harder for oxygen and iron to reach your tissues and your baby. This condition is called anemia.
If you develop anemia during pregnancy, it can affect both you and your baby, which can result in preterm birth, low birth weight, anemia, and developmental delays for your baby. For you, it can lead to postpartum depression or a longer recovery after your baby’s birth.1
Anemia Risk During Pregnancy
Nearly 20 percent of pregnant women worldwide develop anemia caused by iron deficiency. In fact, mild anemia is normal during pregnancy.2 So how do you know if you are at higher risk for developing this condition? Hematologists have identified factors that put women at higher risk, including:
- Having two pregnancies close together
- Being pregnant with multiples
- Experiencing frequent vomiting due to morning sickness
- Not eating enough foods rich in iron
- Having a heavy pre-pregnancy menstrual flow
Know the Symptoms
During your first trimester, you may not have obvious symptoms of anemia, or they may be the same as the typical symptoms that often accompany pregnancy. During the second and third trimesters, when your body requires more iron than it can produce, anemia can develop. Recognizing it early so you can treat it is important.
Here are the most common symptoms of anemia during pregnancy:
- Feeling tired or weak
- Pale skin, lips, and nails
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble concentrating
Reducing Your Risk
Determining your risk for anemia when you are pregnant starts with a conversation with your doctor. It is also recommended that you get tested during your first prenatal visit. Your doctor may also suggest that you have another blood test in your second and third trimester to detect anemia.
Preventing anemia during pregnancy starts with good nutrition and eating foods high in iron. Here are some things to include in your diet.
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Red meat
- Fortified cereals
- Prenatal vitamins with iron and folic acid
Prenatal Vitamins Boost Iron
Eating healthy is the best way to get the extra vitamins and minerals you need during pregnancy to prevent anemia, but prenatal vitamins can help fill in the gaps by providing additional iron and folic acid.
Prenatal vitamins are readily available online, over the counter, or by prescription, but they are not all the same. Talk with your doctor about your body’s specific needs to maintain the right amount of nutritional support for a healthy pregnancy.
Prenate® Vitamin Family
This post is brought to you by the Prenate® Vitamin Family, a line of prescription prenatal supplements designed to enhance preconception, prenatal, and postpartum nutrition in women. Talk with your doctor about how taking a daily prescription prenatal or postnatal vitamin could help support a healthy pregnancy and postpartum wellness.