Coping with Chronic Health Conditions: Tips

Coping with Chronic Health Conditions: Tips

Understanding Anemia During Pregnancy

by Freddie Cox

If you are expecting for the first time, you might experience bouts of tiredness or difficulty concentrating. However, extreme fatigue can actually be a sign that you are struggling with low iron levels because of your pregnancy. If you are light headed, always tired, and have a hard time focusing on specific tasks, you should talk to your care provider about the possibility that your could have pregnancy-induced iron-deficiency anemia.

Why is iron important?

Iron is used to make hemoglobin, which is a special protein used by your red blood cells to bind to oxygen. The oxygen is then delivered by your red blood cells to all the other cells in your body. If you don't have sufficient iron levels, you will not make enough hemoglobin, which means that your cells will not get as much oxygen. The lack of oxygenation prevents your cells from working at optimum performance, which is why you feel so tired all the time.

How serious is anemia during pregnancy?

Mild anemia may simply cause you discomfort as your struggle with lower energy levels, but more severe anemia can actually lead to pregnancy and birth complications. Remember that your growing baby also will not get the oxygen he or she needs if you have low iron levels. More commonly, untreated anemia can cause your baby to be born too early. You also have a higher risk of hemorrhaging during delivery and having postpartum depression. In some cases, low iron levels can affect the development of a fetus, leading to some developmental delays.

How can you prevent iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy?

Some people are at a higher risk of developing anemia during pregnancy. If you are a growing teenager, pregnant with twins, or had troubles with your iron levels before you became pregnant, you are more likely to have this problem. However, regardless of your risk, you should be vigilant about increasing your iron intake during pregnancy, as pregnant women need about 27 mg of iron daily. Try to:

  • begin taking your prenatal vitamin as soon as you find you are pregnant. If you are actively trying to conceive, start taking the vitamin even before you know for sure you have been successful. Prenatal vitamins have the daily dose of iron that most pregnant women need.
  • have your iron levels tested regularly, especially if you had trouble with anemia prior to conceiving or if you became pregnant within a few months of giving birth to a previous child. You should also ask for a blood tests every so often if you have had severe morning sickness or constant nausea, as these can affect how much iron you actually manage to keep down.
  • eat plenty of red meat, leafy green vegetables, and food rich in vitamin C, like strawberries and oranges. These foods contain iron that is readily absorbed by the body. Vitamin C helps improve your body's ability to use the iron in your diet. 
  • talk to your midwife about any problems you might have with taking needed supplements. Some women might avoid vitamins or iron supplements because of side effects. If your vitamins make your sick or your iron makes your constipated, you will need to explore other options.

Are there other other forms of anemia besides iron-deficiency?

What if you feel tired all the time but your iron levels are normal? You could still have anemia, but it could be cased by a folate deficiency or a lack of vitamin B-12. These are less common than iron deficiency, but still affect your ability to get oxygen. Both these vitamins are needed to produce red blood cells. Your care provider can request a blood test to help diagnose these anemia types.

Talk to your doctor or midwife ( if you notice any of these issues.


About Me

Coping with Chronic Health Conditions: Tips

Ever since I was a young girl, I have had bad asthma and allergies. I had to stay in the hospital several times when I was in elementary school just to help get my asthma under control and it seemed like I was trying medication after medication with little success. I don't remember all of my childhood health details, since I was so young, but my mother has "filled in the blanks" for me. Thanks to modern medicine and a natural remedy, my health conditions are currently under control and have been for a few years now. I am very grateful for my good health, and I want to "pay it back" to others by creating a blog where I will post my health tips. I hope I can help you learn how to achieve good health!